Determined to a great degree by underlying geology and subsequent glaciation, Stearns County rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands define unique subareas of the County. The land use plan areas reflect the varying distribution of water resources in the County. The figure below shows the extent of surface water resources in Stearns County. While lakes, rivers and streams provide desirable amenities for development, they are also susceptible to degradation from poorly planned development. The land use plan considers the relationship of development to surface water quality.
The Mississippi River creates the eastern border of the County and is fed by rivers and streams including the Sauk, North Fork Crow, Two Rivers, Watab, and Clearwater Rivers, and Johnson, Spunk, and Plum Creeks. The second map, Watershed Districts, illustrates the geographic distribution of watersheds in Stearns County as well as the managing watershed districts. Two distinct lakes regions are located in the central and southern areas of the County.
Groundwater resources are also influenced by land use choices. The DNR has created a map (see the figure below) of groundwater areas that are
susceptible to contamination by nitrates. Development and agricultural land use practices should be considered when planning for land uses in
areas of high nitrate susceptibility.