The Minnesota River flows southeast from its source at Big Stone Lake on the South Dakota border to Mankato then northeast to join the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling (about 335 total miles). It covers approximately 16,770 square miles, roughly 10 million acres. Thirteen major watersheds in Minnesota drain into the basin, which touches 37 counties.
There are 13 watersheds in the Minnesota River Basin:
- Blue Earth, Watonwan and Le Sueur River Watersheds
- Chippewa River Watershed
- Cottonwood River Watershed
- Hawk Creek and Yellow Medicine River Watersheds
- Lac Qui Parle River Watershed
- Middle and Lower Minnesota River Watersheds
- Pomme de Terre River Watershed
- Redwood River Watershed
- Upper Minnesota River Watershed
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.
Watershed Connections newsletter
A periodic e-newsletter from MPCA with updates on TMDL projects in the Minnesota, Crow and Lower Mississippi river basins. Watershed Connections
For questions about the Minnesota River Basin, contact Scott MacLean at 507-344-5250 or 800-657-3864 toll free.
- Minnesota River Basin Plan
- Minnesota River Basin Plan - fact sheet
- Minnesota River Basin - Environment and Water Quality Achievements
Reports and publications
- Revisiting the Minnesota River Assessment Project
- Bacteria in the Minnesota River
- Computer Model a Useful Tool in Water Quality Research
- Minnesota River Pollutant Reduction Study
- Papers related to Minnesota River and other research projects
- Phosphorus in the Minnesota River
- Progress on a Long Voyage
- Minnesota River Basin Trends (2009)
- Minnesota Basin General Phosphorus Permit - Phase I. Regulates phosphorus discharge from more than 150 wastewater treatment facilities in the basin, and allows trading among phosphorus point sources within the basin. The permit implements the wastewater treatment portion of the Lower Minnesota River Dissolved Oxygen TMDL.
- Report: Identifying Sediment Sources in the Minnesota River Basin