Flow characteristics of the Clearwater River and tributaries from Clearbrook to Plummer, northwestern Minnesota

Water-Resources Investigations Report 89-4045




During March through October 1986, 52,560 acre-feet of water passed the continuous-record stream gaging station on the Clearwater River near Clearbrook, Minnesota, 4.8 river miles upstream from the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Flow at the downstream boundary of the Reservation totaled 93,770 acre-feet. The increase in Clearwater River flow in the reach bordering the Reservation equaled 32,950 acre-feet; 60 percent of the increase occurred during March, April, and May. During those months, flow in the Clearwater River was augmented by flow from Kiwosay Reservoir and Butcher Knife Creek, which are located on the Reservation. Daily streamflow records showed that flow in the river increased in the Reservation reach throughout the study except for 13 days during October when losses occurred. At the downstream Reservation boundary, all daily mean flows exceeded the 36 cubic feet per second minimum flow required by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the gaging station at Plummer, Minnesota located 29.9 miles downstream from the Reservation boundary. Monthly flows generally followed expected seasonal trends, with the highest monthly totals occurring in April and May and the lowest monthly totals occurring during August, September, and October. Seasonal trends were modified by reservoir releases, withdrawals for irrigation, and return flows that resulted from drainage of adjacent wild-rice fields. A series of flow measurements showed that localized withdrawals and return flows at times exceeded 20 percent of total streamflow. Discharge measurements made during low flow indicated higher rates of groundwater discharge in the vicinity of the Kiwosay Reservoir than in other parts of the study reach. Measurements made during August indicated that groundwater discharge in the reach of the river bordering the Reservation resulted in a flow gain of about 20 percent. Analysis of long-term streamflow records showed that near-average hydrologic conditions prevailed during the study period.

Study Area

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Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Flow characteristics of the Clearwater River and tributaries from Clearbrook to Plummer, northwestern Minnesota
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
St. Paul, MN
Contributing office(s):
Minnesota Water Science Center
iv, 25 p.
United States
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