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Bluff Creek

Bluff Creek is about seven miles long. Unlike Purgatory and Riley creeks, it does not connect any lakes on its way to the Minnesota River. However, it does connect many wetlands, and you can explore almost its entire length on trails.

Keeping Bluff Creek healthy requires several tools and strategies. Conducting projects to stabilize streambanks and restore stretches of stream is one strategy. Cleaning and slowing rainwater runoff before it reaches the creek is another. Before either of these can be done, we need to understand how the creek is doing and where it needs the most help.

District staff have monitored Bluff Creek since the 1980s. To assess creek health, staff developed a tool called the Creek Restoration Action Strategy (CRAS). CRAS uses water quality data, as well as information on erosion and habitat, to rank which creek stretches (sections) are doing the best and which are doing the poorest.

Chloride: A Growing Concern

Chloride permenently pollutes our lakes, ponds, wetlands, and creeks. Chloride sources include winter de-icing salts, water softeners, and fertilizers all contribute to chloride pollution. The graph below show how chloride levels have increased over time in Bluff Creek.


Stream Characteristics

Length 6.8 miles
Elevation Change 232 feet
Watershed size 5.8 square miles
# of cities in watershed 2
# of lake connected 0
# of monitoring sites 5
# of parks 3
Impairment listing Turbidity, Fish
Common fish Brook Stickleback, Northern Fathead Minnow
Invasive species Reed Canary Grass, Buckthorn

Stream Health

RPBCWD staff monitor streams at several sites. Bluff Creek has five monitoring sites. Data is collected at each of these sites to detemine if there's an impairment in the following categories:

  • Total suspended solids
  • Total phosphorus (nutrient)
  • Macroinvertebrates (aquatic animals)
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Fish species
  • E. coli (bacteria)

View the most recent stream monitoring map.

For more information about waterbody impairments, visit the Minnesota's Impaired Waters List webpage managed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


Bluff Creek Factsheet

Learn more about the Bluff Creek Subwatershed

Bluff Creek Factsheet

Related Projects

Bluff Creek Headwaters Ecological Restoration Project

This project will provide an ecologically diverse stream reach that significantly reduces streambank erosion, provides diverse habitat layers, improves the ecological functions, and enhances the public’s access and their understanding of why stable stream systems are important while providing improved inspection and maintenance access along a portion of Bluff Creek.

Pioneer Trail Wetland Restoration Project

The Pioneer Trail Wetland Restoration Project will restore wetland and upland habitats on seven acres of land owned by the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District. The wetland drains into Bluff Creek.

Bluff Creek Tributary Restoration

A project to stabilize the banks of Bluff Creek, decreasing sediment pollution and protecting wetland habitat

Chanhassen High School Stormwater Capture and Reuse

A project to capture stormwater before it flows to Bluff Creek, and reuse it to irrigate athletic fields.

Learn more


DNR StreamFinder

Get information about location, fishing regulations, water access sites and more.


MPCA Surface Water Data

Find historical lake and stream water quality data.


Metropolitan Council

View and download information on lakes, rivers, streams, rain gauges