The large rivers of Minnesota are also managed using similar monitoring, assessment, planning, and restoration processes. These five rivers—the Mississippi, Minnesota, Rainy, Red, and St. Croix—are important water resources for recreation, water supply, and for commerce.
The MPCA began monitoring large rivers in 2013, starting with the Mississippi river from its headwaters to the St. Anthony Falls. Another river will be started in each of the following years. The MPCA is working with the other border states to develop uniform monitoring and assessment processes.
Despite it being a popular river for fishing and other recreation, there are significant worries about water quality and quantity.
Simply put, the river is unhealthy. Sediment clouds the water, phosphorus causes algae, nitrogen poses risks to humans and fish, and bacteria make the water unsafe for swimming.
This 2017 study takes a look at the river from Lake Itasca to downtown Minneapolis, evaluating aquatic life and pollutants. It’s healthy up north, then has problems south of St. Cloud.