HUC 12 Watersheds
What does “HUC” mean?
“HUC” is a tricky acronym, almost always used as an acronym and rarely spelled out.
Every watershed (whether the Upper Mississippi Watershed, the Turkey River Watershed, or the Otter Creek Watershed) has been given a unique identification number by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). That number is called the Hydrologic Unit Code, or HUC.
- Bohemian Creek Watershed, by Spillville, has a Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) of 070600040201.
- The Turkey River Watershed has a Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) of 07060004.
The land area of the watershed, determines the number of digits needed to represent that HUC number.
Really big watersheds, like the Upper Mississippi River Watershed, need only 2 digits to identify it: (i.e., 07) (There are only 21 “HUC 2” or “2-digit HUCs” in the United States).
Watersheds the size of the Turkey River Watershed or the Upper Iowa River Watershed, need 8 digits to identify them. (i.e., 07060004, or 07060002)
The smallest type of watershed identified, Bohemian Creek Watershed, Otter Creek Watershed or Dry Mill Creek Watershed for example, uses 12 digits to identify it. (e.g., 070600040201) (There are something like 160,000 “HUC 12” a.k.a. “12-digit HUCs” in the United States).
There are 53 of these “12-digit HUCs” a.k.a. “HUC 12” watersheds within the Turkey River Watershed. Their names and size are listed below.
Because one rarely refers to the Turkey River Watershed as 07060004, or the Upper Mississippi Watershed as 07, the most common way Hydrologic Unit codes are used in common speech is to refer to watersheds of a certain size. “We are looking to implement projects in several of the HUC 12 watersheds within the Turkey River Watershed.” Or somebody at the state level might say: “We are looking to narrow our focus down to three HUC 8 watersheds in Iowa”
Why talk about HUC 12 watersheds?
As part of our comprehensive watershed planning process, it has become apparent that it will be beneficial for us to start prioritizing sub-watersheds of the Turkey River Watershed for future watershed projects.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has conveniently divided the Turkey River Watershed into 53 smaller, sub-watersheds, each referred to as a “HUC 12” watershed. These smaller watersheds give us a chance to effectively focus our energy and resources to get the greatest return on our collective investment. Once we have a list of projects and a plan, we can go right down the list – implementing one HUC 12 watershed project after the other.
One example of this intense focus on a HUC 12 watershed is the Iowa Flood Center’s Watershed Demonstration Project. We have already been fortunate enough to partner with the Iowa Flood Center on a cutting edge, hydrologic study of the Turkey River watershed. On February 19th, we will learn if the Turkey River Watershed is also selected to have the Iowa Flood Center work with us to implement a HUC 12 watershed demonstration project. If we are selected, we’ll need to figure out which HUC 12 watershed we want as a demonstration project. (Mathematically, we have a 75% chance of being selected for this project, but this decision will be made by the Iowa Watershed Planning Advisory Council.)
12-Digit HUC watersheds within the Turkey River Watershed
|HUC 12 Name||Acres|
|Grannis Creek-Volga River||22989|
|Honey Creek-Volga River||24037|
|Simpson Creek-Crane Creek||24666|
|Headwaters Roberts Creek||22597|
|Burr Oak Creek-Turkey River||18008|
|Beaver Creek-Turkey River||31169|
|Brockamp Creek-Turkey River||31950|
|Lower Little Turkey River||23514|
|Panther Creek-Turkey River||19869|
|Cherry Valley-Little Turkey River||25956|
|Bluebell Creek-Turkey River||21010|
|Village of Eldorado-Turkey River||16058|
|Little Volga River||24720|
|French Hollow-Turkey River||29838|
|Bell Creek-Turkey River||13495|
|Dry Mill Creek||14169|
|Fitzgerald Creek-Turkey River||11374|
|South Cedar Creek||22909|
|Nagle Creek-Volga River||34609|
|Doe Creek-Volga River||12183|
|Middle Little Turkey River||17354|
|Upper Little Turkey River||18214|
|Village of Lawler-Crane Creek||20625|
|Dry Run-Crane Creek||24569|
|Carlan Creek-Turkey River||19814|
|Headwaters Elk Creek||26713|
|Coulee Creek-Volga River||19417|
|Headwaters Volga River||16750|
|North Branch Volga River||16425|
|North Branch Turkey River||26744|
|Headwaters Crane Creek||34178|
|Otter Creek-Turkey River||24372|
|Spring Creek-Crane Creek||32991|
|Headwaters Little Turkey River||30742|
|South Branch Turkey River-Turkey River||20831|
|Chihaks Creek-Turkey River||14786|