The Zumbro River drains 1,428 square miles and falls from about 1,300 feet altitude in its headwaters to 665 feet at its mouth. The remaining 248 square miles included in the watershed is drained by small creeks flowing directly into the Mississippi River. Distribution of water use is about as follows: domestic, 50 percent; farm (for irrigation and livestock), 18 percent; and industrial, 32 percent. Total usage, in water-budget terms, is 0.24 inch over the entire watershed, or less than 1 percent of inflow (average annual precipitation). Total quantity of water, thus, is of lesser concern than local availability and quality of water. The dominant ions (calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate) and dissolved solids are reduced by dilution during periods of high water discharge in the Zumbro River at Zumbro Falls. Similarly, in the South Fork Zumbro River near Rochester, dominant ions, dissolved solids, and those ions that are increased by waste disposal (sodium, chloride, and nitrates) are all reduced by dilution at high water discharge. For the Zumbro River the smallest monthly range and the most uniform daily mean discharge usually occurs in January, whereas the greatest range usually occurs in March. The lowest flows usually occur in the winter and the highest during the spring ice breakup. The lowest observed flow, 47 cfs, occurred on February 18, 1961 and the highest, 23,600 cfs, occurred on March 29, 1962. Seventeen of 22 municipalities obtain at least part of their water supply from the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer. Although only one town uses the Galena aquifer, a large number of private domestic wells are completed in it in the western part of the watershed. (Woodard-USGS)
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water resources of the Zumbro River watershed, southeastern Minnesota
col. maps on 3 sheets ;78 x 101 cm. each folded in envelope 30 x 24 cm.