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Purgatory Creek

Purgatory Creek has three headwaters: Lotus Lake in Chanhassen, Silver Lake in Shorewood, and wetlands in Minnetonka. After these forks join, the creek flows through the Purgatory Recreation Area and Staring Lake before eventually reaching the Minnesota River.

Keeping Purgatory 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 Purgatory Creek.


Stream Characteristics

Length 12 miles
Elevation Change 178 ft
Watershed size 30 sq miles
# of cities in watershed 4
# of lakes connected 8
# of parks 27
Impairment listing Not listed
Common fish Bluegill, White Sucker, Black Crappie, Yellow Perch
Invasive species Curlyleaf Pondweed, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Common Carp

Stream Health

RPBCWD staff monitor streams at several sites. Purgatory Creek has eight 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.


Purgatory Creek Factsheet

Learn more about Purgatory Creek

Purgatory Creek Factsheet

Related Projects

Fire Station Two (Eden Prairie)

Through a grant from the Metropolitan Council, the District partnered with the city of Eden Prairie to implement water conservation practices at Fire Station Two.

Scenic Heights School Forest Restoration

This project will restore a healthy ecosystem in the school forest, one that promotes clean water in nearby Purgatory Creek, and provides habitat for wildlife.


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