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Mississippi River - Twin Cities Watershed



Watershed at a glance

The Mississippi River - Twin Cities watershed is 656,990 acres and lies almost entirely in the North Central Hardwoods Forest ecoregion in the Mississippi River Basin. The watershed contains 1,320 stream miles and 380 lakes. More than 1.8 million people live in this watershed, which contains portions of Hennepin, Anoka, Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Carver, and Sherburne counties, 99 cities, and 14 watershed management organizations (WMOs).

Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 07010206 [More Info]

Intensive monitoring start year 2010 [More Info]

Major lakesMajor rivers and streams


Mississippi, Rice Creek


The Mississippi provides a home for more than 400 different species of wildlife and plays a vital role in the upper Mississippi River valley. The river is also home to more than 100 different species of freshwater fish, which allows for some of the best fishing around, and is a major drinking water supply for the Twin Cities.

Of the impaired waters conventional pollutant listings about 70% are for nutrient-impaired lakes. The main factors affecting water quality are stormwater management, nutrient management on farmland and residential/commercial areas, sediment and erosion control, protection of shoreland/riparian areas, and invasive species (e.g., carp and curly-leaf pondweed). These land uses and other factors have contributed to the introduction of large amounts of phosphorus, sediment, and bacteria to surface waters and increased nutrient, contaminant, and sedimentation loading from stormwater runoff from development and other non-point sources.

    What's being done

    The MPCA, along with its partners, are working to restore and protect the surface waters within this watershed through the implementation of best management practices and other actions. The 10-year watershed cycle for the Mississippi River-Twin Cities watershed began in 2010.

    • An assessment report summarizing the biological monitoring and field data collected is scheduled to be completed by 2012.
    • Data collected will inform and supplement Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies and restoration plans either being conducted or yet to start at the subwatershed level (i.e., WMO).
    • More than 20 TMDL projects — ranging in scope from single waterbody to entire WMO — are currently ongoing within the watershed. These are continuing in accordance with their existing specific project work plans.

    MPCA's watershed approach

    Since 2007, the MPCA and its partners have begun implementing a 10-year rotation for watershed restoration plans to address Minnesota's waters at the major watershed level. Find out more about MPCA's watershed approach.

    Monitoring and assessment reports

    Restoration and protection

    The restoration and protection process

    The MPCA and partner organizations evaluate water conditions, establish improvement goals and priorities, and take actions designed to restore or protect water quality on a 10-year cycle.


      Monitoring and assessment

    Projects in this watershed to test water quality conditions and determine whether our lakes, rivers, and wetlands are meeting state water quality standards. [More info]

    Project NameStatus
    Anoka Conservation District WQ Baseline Monitoring
    Bassett Creek Monitoring
    Clear Lake Water Quality Diagnostic Study
    Crosby Lake Management Plan
    Dakota County Lakes
    Elm-Rush-Diamond Creek Stream Monitoring
    Lake Harriet Diagnostic Study and Management Plan
    Lambert Creek Retrofit ID and Design Project
    Metro Area Watershed Outlet Monitoring
    Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Water Quality
    Mississippi River Twin Cities Watershed Monitoring
    Mississippi Watershed Management Organization 2
    Ramsey County Public Works Lake Management Program
    Rice Creek Watershed District Monitoring
    Rice Creek Watershed IBI
    Surface Water Compliance at Closed Landfills
    Thompson Lake Dakota County
    Three Rivers Park District
    Upper Mississippi R Information Access Initiative
    Upper Mississippi River Basin GenSen Modeling
    VLAWMO Citizens Lake Monitoring Program
    Vadnais Lakes Area Water Quality Monitoring
    Vadnais Lakes Area Watershed Management Org

    Lakes and stream segments with condition and monitoring information
    Lakes and streams are divided into "assessment units" for monitoring.

    Impairments in this watershed listed by lake or stream segment
    Generally, a waterbody has an impairment when it exceeds a particular pollutant standard.


      Strategy development projects

    Projects in this watershed that establish federal- or state-required plans for restoring water quality for impaired waters, or protecting high-quality waters. [More info]

    Project NameStatus
    Mercury Pollutant Reduction Plan
    Elm Creek Watershed Mgmt Commission WRAP Strategy
    Lower Minnesota River Major Watershed WRAP Strategy
    Minnehaha Creek Watershed District WRAP Strategy
    Rice Creek Watershed District WRAP Strategy
    Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District WRAP Strategy
    South Metro Mississippi TSS
    South Washington Watershed District WRAP Strategy
    Upper Mississippi River Bacteria TMDL
    Lino Lakes Chain (Metro)
    Pioneer-Sarah Creek Watershed Management Commission WRAP Strategy
    Bassett Creek Watershed Management Organization WRAP Strategy
    Coon Creek Watershed District WRAP Strategy
    Minnehaha Creek Watershed Lakes TMDLs
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Shingle & Bass Creeks - Impaired Biota & Dissolved Oxygen
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Twin and Ryan Lakes-Excess Nutrients
    Hardwood Creek Impaired Biota TMDL
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Cedar Island, Pike and Eagle Lakes-Excess Nutrients
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Schmidt, Pomerleau, and Bass Lakes-Excess Nutrients
    Minnehaha Creek Lake Hiawatha TMDL
    Peltier Lake and Centerville Lake Nutrient Impairment TMDL
    Phase 2: TCMA Chloride Management Plan Development Project
    Bald Eagle Lake (Metro)
    Como Lake (Metro)
    Golden Lake TMDL
    Grass Lake Watershed Management Organization WRAP Strategy
    Kohlman Lake Excess Nutrients
    Lower Minnesota River - Dissolved Oxygen
    Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization WRAP Strategy
    Medicine Lake Excess Nutrients TMDL
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Chloride
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Crystal Lake-Excess Nutrients
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Magda Lake - Excess Nutrients
    Shingle Creek Watershed: Meadow Lake - Excess Nutrients
    Silver (West) Lake (Metro)
    Sweeney Lake
    Wirth Lake Excess Nutrients TMDL Development Project
    Capitol Region Watershed District WRAP Strategy
    Mississippi Watershed Management Organization WRAP Strategy
    Placeholder for WRAPS milestone tracking
    Shingle Creek Watershed Management Commission WRAP Strategy
    Vadnais Lake Area WMO TMDL and Protection Study
    West Mississippi Watershed Management Organization WRAP Strategy


      Implementation activities

    Projects in this watershed to put water restoration or protection measures in place, ranging from best management practices to reduce runoff from fields or streets, to fixes to wastewater treatment facilities, to education activities for citizens and landowners. Implementation projects are supported by local, state and federal government sources, including Minnesota's new Clean Water Fund.

    Our partners in the watershed are continually involved in these kinds of activities. See Contacts tab.

    Project NameStatus
    Bald Eagle Lake (Metro)
    Chloride Winter Maintenance Trng & Certification
    Crystal Lake Nutrient TMDL Implementation
    Dakota County NPS Reduction
    Hardwood Creek TMDL Implementation Project
    Kohlman Lake TMDL Nutrient Reduction Phase 2
    Lake Johanna/Oasis Pond Water Quality Treatment
    Lambert Creek WQ Improvement Phase 3 Cont
    Mississippi River Twin Cities Watershed Monitoring
    Sand Creek Stormwater Retrofit Project
    Sauk River Major Watershed
    Shingle Creek Chloride Reduction
    Shingle Creek Porous Pavement Paired Intersection
    Shingle Creek Watershed Management Commission
    Shingle Creek Watershed Management Commission
    Twin Lake Wetland 639 Nutrient Export Reduction
    Upper Mississippi River Source Water Protection
    West Moore Lake Water Quality Enhancements
    Wetland 639W Restoration Feasibility


    Water data tools

    Search for your lake or stream's assessment data
    See information about your local lake or stream.


    DNR Lake Finder
    Find information about 4500+ lakes, rivers, and streams


    legacy-amedment-logoThis work is supported by the Clean Water Legacy fund.



    Chris Zadak, MPCA project manager



    Watershed Map

    Many of Minnesota’s lakes and streams do not currently meet water-quality standards because of pollution such as excess sediment or nutrients, bacteria or mercury. These waters are considered “impaired.” For more information, visit the impaired waters page.

    The toggles show impaired waters and monitoring stations. Click on a site for more information.

    Impairments in this watershed, listed by lake or stream segment
    Generally, a waterbody has an impairment when it exceeds a particular pollutant standard.


    Twin Cities Metro Watersheds

    Twin Cities Metropolitan Area watersheds

    There are 33 watershed districts (WD) and watershed management organizations (WMO) in the Twin Cities Metro Area. These metro watersheds are in 8 major (8-digit) watersheds: the Rum River, Lower St. Croix, Mississippi River (Twin Cities), Mississippi River (Lake Pepin), Minnesota River (Shakopee), South Fork Crow River, North Fork Crow River, and Cannon River watersheds. These WDs/WMOs are formed and regulated by MN Rules Chapter 8410.

    A number of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Studies and Implementation Plans have already been completed or are underway for impaired waters in metro watersheds. Moving forward TMDL studies will be done in conjunction with watershed restoration and protection strategies (WRAPS) reports, which will contain the needed implementation strategy elements. Metro WRAPS will follow the timing and guidance of the watershed approach, but note that these will be completed at the metro WD/WMO scale.

    MPCA staff also review metro watershed management plans that are developed by watershed districts and watershed management organizations.


    A list of MPCA staff contacts by metro watershed is available on the Twin Cities Metro watersheds page.

    Last modified on November 06, 2015 15:02

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