Metadata: Public Waters (PW) Basin and Watercourse Delineations

Public Waters (PW) Basin and Watercourse Delineations

This page last updated: 06/10/2020
Metadata created using Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines

Go to Section:
  1. Overview
  2. Data Quality
  3. Data Organization
  4. Coordinate System
  5. Attributes
  6. Distribution - Get Data
  7. Metadata Reference

Section 1: Overview

Originator:Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR)

Title: Public Waters (PW) Basin and Watercourse Delineations

Abstract: These are provisional representations of Public Waters Basins (lakes, wetlands) and Watercourses (streams, altered channels) as depicted on the scanned paper regulatory maps and lists known as Public Waters Inventory (PWI). Public Waters (formerly called Protected Waters) are defined in MN Rule and are protected by specific permitting requirements.

Permits for Water Appropriation, Public Waters Work and Dam Safety are available from the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS):

Lake Shoreland Classifications are included in the Basin feature attribute table and can be displayed by loading the designated layer file included in the File Geodatabase download. More information on Shoreland Classification can be found here:

Minnesota Administrative Rules - Chapter 6115 Public Water Resources

Public Waters Inventory


Subd. 15 Public waters. (a) "Public waters" means:

    (1) water basins assigned a shoreland management classification by the commissioner under sections 103F.201 to 103F.221; see

    (2) waters of the state that have been finally determined to be public waters or navigable waters by a court of competent jurisdiction;

    (3) meandered lakes, excluding lakes that have been legally drained;

    (4) water basins previously designated by the commissioner for management for a specific purpose such as trout lakes and game lakes pursuant to applicable laws;

    (5) water basins designated as scientific and natural areas under section 84.033;

    (6) water basins located within and totally surrounded by publicly owned lands;

    (7) water basins where the state of Minnesota or the federal government holds title to any of the beds or shores, unless the owner declares that the water is not necessary for the purposes of the public ownership;

    (8) water basins where there is a publicly owned and controlled access that is intended to provide for public access to the water basin;

    (9) natural and altered watercourses with a total drainage area greater than two square miles;

    (10) natural and altered watercourses designated by the commissioner as trout streams; and

    (11) public waters wetlands, unless the statute expressly states otherwise.

    (b) Public waters are not determined exclusively by the proprietorship of the underlying, overlying, or surrounding land or by whether it is a body or stream of water that was navigable in fact or susceptible of being used as a highway for commerce at the time this state was admitted to the union.

Purpose: These data were developed as an aid in making regulatory decisions regarding Public Waters Basins and Watercourses. State Shoreland Classifications are also included in the Public Waters Basins.

Time Period of Content Date: 06/10/2020

Currentness Reference: Time Period of Content date indicates the date which the user can be confident of accuracy and completeness of the dataset.

Progress: Complete

Maintenance and Update Frequency: As needed

Spatial Extent of Data:

Bounding Coordinates: -96.811011

Place Keywords: Minnesota, MN

Theme Keywords: Inland Waters, Hydrography, Water, Public Waters, Basins, Watercourses, Regulation, Shoreland Classification

Theme Keyword Thesaurus: ISO 19115 Category

Access Constraints: None

Use Constraints: These are provisional data. Users are expected to contact the appropriate Area and Regional Hydrologist before taking any actions that may affect a regulated basin or watercourse.
Area Hydrologist phone numbers can be found at:
See the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS): to file a Public Waters Work permit.

Use of the data are constrained only by the MNDNR GIS Data License Agreement. See the Distribution Liability section below for a link.

Contact Person Information: Andrea Bergman, GIS Data Steward
Minnesota DNR - Ecological and Water Resources
500 Lafayette Rd
Saint Paul, MN  55155
Phone: 651-259-5690

Browse Graphic: Click to view a data sample.

Associated Data Sets: This is one of the major feature classes in the DNR Hydrography SDE Dataset

Section 2: Data Quality

Attribute Accuracy:

Logical Consistency: Not Specifically Assessed


Horizontal Positional Accuracy:

Lineage: Waterbodies and watercourses were identified from scanned paper Public Waters Inventory (PWI) maps and digitized from current aerial photography.

2019-07-31: Eliminated County and City Shoreland Classification from the attribute table. DNR maintains the State Shoreland Classification in the attribute field: dnr_shoreland_class. Users interested in County or City Shoreland Classifications should contact DNR Land Use staff or the County or City directly.

Section 3: Spatial Data Organization (not used in this metadata)

Section 4: Coordinate System

Horizontal Coordinate Scheme: Universal Transverse Mercator

UTM Zone Number: 15

Horizontal Datum: NAD83

Horizontal Units: meters

Vertical Datum: not applicable

Vertical Units: Not Applicable

Depth Datum: not applicable

Depth Units: Not Applicable

Section 5: Attributes


Detailed Citation:

Table Detail:
public_waters_watercourses_delineations - Public Waters Watercourses
Field NameValid ValuesDefinitionDefinition Source
FW_ID0, 100000 to 300000Unique Fisheries Watercourse ID for joining/linking stream routes to DNR Fisheries Stream Survey Oracle DB. FW_IDs are assigned based on how the watercourse is managed by DNR Fisheries (an FW_ID may correspond to an entire stream or portion of a stream.) Dummy (invalid) Kittle Numbers have FW_ID = 0.DNR Fisheries Stream Survey DB
Watercourse ID per DNR Fisheries Stream Survey database. A valid KITTLE_NBR has a drainage-branching format 'X-000-000-000...' (See VALID = Y, below). A dummy KITTLE_NBR has the format 'MAJXXXX-xxxxx' (See VALID = N, below).DNR Fisheries Stream Survey DB
Stream Name per DNR Fisheries Stream Survey databaseDNR Fisheries Stream Survey DB
Length of entire stream route in miles. (GIS-calculated.)DNR Fisheries
Mile measure for starting (downstream) location of linear feature. (GIS-calculated.)DNR Fisheries
Mile measure for ending (upstream) location of linear feature. (GIS-calculated.)DNR Fisheries
Length of linear feature in miles. (GIS-calculated.)DNR Fisheries
ENTIREenumeratedFlag denoting whether entire watercourse route is a Public Waters watercourse.DNR Fisheries
VALIDenumeratedFlag to identify validity of assigned Kittle NumbersDNR Fisheries Stream Survey DB
NDummy (invalid) Kittle Number assigned by DNR Fisheries; has the format 'MAJXXXX-xxxxx' where MAJXXXX represents the 4-digit code for the HUC04 drainage and -xxxxx is a unique, sequential number. Dummy Kittle Numbers usually pertain to small unmanaged streams and streams outside of MN.DNR Fisheries
YValid Kittle Number assigned by DNR Fisheries; has a valid drainage-branching format 'X-000-000-000...' where X identifies the major drainage (H-Hudson Bay, I-Iowa/Cedar River, M-Mississippi River, S-Lake Superior) and '-000-000-000...' is a branching identifier that lengthens as you move upstream. Valid Kittle Numbers usually pertain to major streams and/or streams that have had some type of DNR management.DNR Fisheries
A concatenation of Kittle Name + (Kittle Number) for labeling purposesDNR Fisheries
PWPublic Water Watercourse
Date the GIS layer was published or updated and re-published.DNR Fisheries
A county-based code denoting a specific segment of a Public Waters watercourse.DNR EWR
PWI_FLAGenumeratedA code denoting the type of Public WatercourseDNR EWR
1Public Water Natural Watercourse
2Public Water Altered Natural Watercourse (includes ditches)
Text description of PWI_FLAG
Flag denoting whether watercourse has a drainage area > two square miles at its mouth
Flag denoting whether watercourse has a drainage area > five square miles at its mouth
The sum total of drainage area upstream ofat its mouth
Catchment ID (DNR Level 09 Autocatchments) that contains the mouth of the Public Waters watercourse. The total upstream drainage area (UPSUM_SQMI) is calculated from (and includes) this catchment.
Field NameValid ValuesDefinitionDefinition Source
Waterbody ID per DNR Ecological and Water Resources (EWR) Division's LAKESDB database; the DOWLKNUM may end in"00" (entire basin) or "01","02", etc. (sub-basinDNR EWR LAKESDB
Public Waters Basin name per DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division's LAKESDB database
Public Waters Basin parent name (corresponding to DOWLKNUMs ending in '00') per DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division's LAKESDB databaseDNR EWR LAKESDB
Public Waters Basin sub-basin name (corresponding to DOWLKNUMs not ending in '00') per DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division's LAKESDB databaseDNR EWR LAKESDB
Flag denoting whether the delineation represents an entire basin '00' or sub-basin '01','02', etc.DNR EWR LAKESDB
Waterbody ID per DNR Ecological and Water Resources (EWR) Division's LAKESDB database for the entire basin, DOW_MAIN will end in "00"; it will match the DOWLKNUM for basins that do not have subbasins; it will represent the combined parent basin ID for the subbasin components.DNR EWR LAKESDB
USGS Geographic Names Information System IDUSGS GNIS
USGS Geographic Names Information System NameUSGS GNIS
Wetland Type per EWR LAKESDB databaseDNR EWR LAKESDB
PWI_CLASSenumeratedPublic Waters class per EWR LAKESDB databaseDNR EWR LAKESDB
EExempt from Public Waters designation
NNot a Public Waters basin
OP Public Waters basin (type=other)
PPublic Waters basin (lake, pond)
WPublic Waters Wetland
Text description of PWI_CLASSDNR EWR LAKESDB
dnr_shoreland_classenumeratedShoreland classification assigned to basin or subbasin by the MN DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources Shoreland Management ProgramDNR EWR
Natural EnvironmentLakes with limited capacities for withstanding the impacts of development and recreational use. They are often small, shallow, and/or have substantial developmental constraints or sensitive features (e.g., high water tables, wild rice) and do not have much existing development or recreational use.Minnesota Rules 6120.3000 Subpart 1a.A.
Recreational DevelopmentGenerally medium sized lakes characterized by moderate levels of recreational use and existing developmentMinnesota Rules 6120.3000 Subpart 1a.B
General DevelopmentGenerally large, deep lakes with high levels and assortment of of existing development. They are often extensively used for recreation and are heavily developed .Minnesota Rules 6120.3000 Subpart 1a.C.
MultipleBasins with more than one DNR shoreland classification, each of which is applicable on certain portions of the basin's shoreline. This typically happens when a basin is found in more than one county, and different shoreland classifications have been assigned in different counties.
Indication that a 50-ft buffer is required for the PW basin per the buffer law: EWR
Surface water acreage of Public Waters basin (corresponding to the OHW-Ordinary HIgh Water Level). This acreage is often greater than the open water as seen on aerail photographyDNR EWR LAKESDB
Shoreline length in miles, corresponding to OHW delineation. Includes shoreline around islands.DNR EWR LAKESDB
UTM Easting (X) of waterbody center
UTM Northing (Y) of waterbody center
Abbreviation of Agency/Division who digitized the feature
Date the feature was digitized
DELINEATION_SRCenumeratedPhoto imagery source used for digitizing the polygon featureDNR Fisheries
1991 DOQ1991 black & white digital ortho photoquad
YYYY FSA2004-2018 (year specified) color Farm Service Adminstration photo
LAMDNR Lands and Minerals polygon
ORIG DLGOriginal USGS DLG 100K polygonUSGS DLG
PWIPublic Water (PWI) polygon representing the Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL)DNR Public Waters layer
Notes regarding delineation of the feature.
Date the feature class was published to the DNR GDRS.DNR Fisheries

Section 6: Distribution

Publisher: MNDNR - Division of Ecological and Water Resources

Publication Date: 07/31/2008

Contact Person Information: Zeb Thomas, GIS Data Systems Coordinator
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul, MN  55155-4011
Phone: 651-259-5637

Distributor's Data Set Identifier: water_mn_public_waters.gdb

Distribution Liability: Please read accompanying document: Minnesota DNR Data and Software License Agreement.pdf

Ordering Instructions: Visit the web site noted in the online linkage section, or send an email to the Distribution Contact listed in this metadata record

Online Linkage: I AGREE to the notice in "Distribution Liability" above. Clicking to agree will either begin the download process, link to a service, or provide more instructions. See "Ordering Instructions" above for details.

Section 7: Metadata Reference

Metadata Date: 06/10/2020

Contact Person Information: Andrea Bergman, GIS Hydrologist
Minnesota DNR - Ecological and Water Resources
500 Lafayette Rd
Saint Paul, MN  55155
Phone: 651-259-5690

Metadata Standard Name: Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines

Metadata Standard Version: 1.2

This page last updated: 06/10/2020
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