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.)



Turkey River Watershed HUC 12 Watersheds


12-Digit HUC watersheds within the Turkey River Watershed

HUC 12 Name Acres
Bohemian Creek 17931
Grannis Creek-Volga River 22989
Hewett Creek 10528
Roberts Creek 15460
Howard Creek 19944
Brush Creek 21787
Honey Creek-Volga River 24037
Simpson Creek-Crane Creek 24666
Headwaters Roberts Creek 22597
Burr Oak Creek-Turkey River 18008
Nutting Creek 17239
Rogers Creek 12878
Silver Creek 17997
Beaver Creek-Turkey River 31169
Brockamp Creek-Turkey River 31950
Elk Creek 14870
Lower Little Turkey River 23514
Panther Creek-Turkey River 19869
Cherry Valley-Little Turkey River 25956
Otter Creek 30213
Bluebell Creek-Turkey River 21010
Village of Eldorado-Turkey River 16058
Frog Hollow 10876
Cox Creek 18421
Bear Creek 14923
Little Volga River 24720
French Hollow-Turkey River 29838
Bell Creek-Turkey River 13495
Dry Mill Creek 14169
Fitzgerald Creek-Turkey River 11374
Dibble Creek 11644
South Cedar Creek 22909
Dry Branch 14433
Wonder Creek 12953
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
Mink Creek 12347
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

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