The Five Component Framework

5 component icon on picture of Red Wing

The Watershed Health Assessment Framework (WHAF) uses five components to view natural systems. Like looking through different colored lenses, each component brings a different perspective and a consistent approach for exploring complex landscapes.

The five components 'frame' the WHAF in several ways:

  • How we explore and understand the ways natural systems function and interact
  • How we calculate and deliver health index scores
  • How we evaluate trade-offs between resource management approaches.


The Five Components


Biology logo

The study of life, encompassing the plants and animal species present in the stream, riparian lands and contributing watershed.

About Biology »


Connectivity logo

The maintenance of pathways that move organisms, energy, and matter throughout the watershed.

About Connectivity »


geomorphology logo

The study of landscape features; from their origins and evolutions to the processes that continue to shape them.

About Geomorphology »


hydrology logo

The inter-relationships and interactions between water and its environment in the hydrologic cycle.

About Hydrology »

Water Quality

water quality logo

The chemical, biological, and physical characteristics of water; the current condition and future susceptibility of surface water and groundwater to degradation.

About Water Quality »


Health Scores

A suite of watershed health index scores have been calculated that represent many of the important ecological relationships within and between the components. These scores are built on statewide GIS data that is compared consistently across Minnesota to provide a baseline health condition report for each of the 81 major watersheds in the state.

Watershed Health Index Scores »

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