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News release

February 15, 2024


Corinne Stremmel, 651-757-2420,

MPCA reports: Decade-long investments reap some improvements in Root River Watershed

canoers on the Root River
Canoers paddle on the Root River in southeastern Minnesota.

New reports from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) highlight restoration investments and improved water quality while calling for continued work to address persistent challenges in southeastern Minnesota. The study compares recent data with an initial round of monitoring and assessment conducted 15 years ago.  

The study finds many streams have very good or improved water quality. It also shows that levels of sediment, nitrate, and bacteria are affecting recreation, fish and aquatic insect communities, and drinking water uses.  

Noticeable changes from the first assessment in 2008 to the most recent assessment include:

  • Delisting five streams from the impaired waters list based on improvements.  
  • Discovery of 24 stream segments supporting aquatic life designated uses.  
  • Addition of 32 impairments in 24 bodies of water across the watershed for fish and aquatic insects, total suspended solids, nitrates, and E. coli.

Since 2017, the Clean Water Fund has funded approximately $3.79 million in strategies to promote conservation across the watershed and to address water quality issues. These strategies include creating control basins to reduce peak flow and sediment runoff, restoring wetlands, improving soil health, and other conservation efforts. The MPCA calls for continued investments in these and other areas.  

Two MPCA reports summarize these changes and provide recommendations for further restoration and protection. The first report called a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), determines the levels of pollutants that water bodies can accept and still meet standards designed to protect aquatic life and recreation. A related report, called Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) Update report, outlines several steps to take to improve water quality in streams.  

The MPCA invites the public to review and share feedback on the TMDL and WRAPS reports including suggestions on strategies to protect and restore waters to better support recreation as well as fish and insect life. The draft reports can be found on the MPCA’s Root River Watershed webpage.

Comments may be submitted online or by U.S. Mail to the following address: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; c/o Emily Zanon; 7381 Airport Drive SE, Rochester, MN 55902. Submit your comments between Feb. 20 and March 21.

Comments must include a statement of your interest in the report(s) and the action you are requesting from the MPCA, including specific changes to sections of the draft report(s) and the reasons for making those changes. 

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