What is a Watershed District?
A watershed is the area within the geographic boundaries of land that drain into a surface water feature such as a stream, river, or lake and contributes to the recharge of groundwater.
There are 81 major watersheds in Minnesota, some of which overlap into adjoining states. Together, these watersheds make up the State’s ten drainage basins. The Pelican River watershed, located in northwest Minnesota, is part of the Otter Tail watershed in the Red River of the North Basin.
Because water is continually moving, it is a resource that tends to be more difficult to manage on the basis of linear political boundaries. Municipal and county lines, based on the rectangular grid of original government surveys, are not often well suited for the management of water resources.
In 1955, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Watershed Act in order to better address water-related issues and concerns occurring within the state at the watershed level. Watershed districts are special purpose units of local government that have been created to help prevent and solve water resource problems on a watershed basis. The boundaries of a watershed district generally follow the hydrologic or topographical limits of an area or region. Most often, watersheds are named for the major surface water resource within the watershed. Hence, the name Pelican River Watershed District.