The large rivers of Minnesota are 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 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.
One of the first rivers in the U.S. to be designated as wild and scenic, with special protections, the St. Croix River now needs protective measures to preserve its good water quality, excellent fisheries, and a thriving mussel population.
The Rainy River is in excellent condition. The river has made a remarkable recovery and now needs protection.
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.