Watershed Achievements Report

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency offers financial assistance from Minnesota’s Clean Water Partnership grant/loan program, the federal Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant program and the Clean Water Fund to protect and improve water quality in Minnesota. These funds are passed through to local government units and other groups that are implementing nonpoint source pollution control measures in Minnesota’s lakes, streams and wetlands.

Why it's important

Pollution from nonpoint sources ­— storm sewers, failing septic systems, and runoff from construction sites, animal feedlots, paved surfaces, and lawns — contribute huge quantities of phosphorus, bacteria, sediments, nitrates and other pollutants to our lakes and streams. Nonpoint sources represent the largest combined threat (an estimated 86 percent) of the state’s water pollution.

The Watershed Achievements Report is an annual report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Clean Water Act Section 319, Clean Water Partnership, and Clean Water Fund projects in Minnesota. 

PDF icon Watershed Achievements: 2017 Annual Report (wq-cwp8-21)


Highlighting innovation. This annual report celebrates the progress made in reducing nonpoint source pollution, highlighting newly awarded and active projects underway as well as successes achieved by projects completed each year for both the CWP and Section 319 programs.

Summary of statewide watershed project activity

The map on page 30 shows major watersheds where water quality improvement projects are currently underway, ready to begin or recently completed in the state. This work is made possible through the dedication and hard work of our partners and funds from U.S. EPA Section 319 grants, the Clean Water Fund, and Clean Water Partnership grants and loans.

Minnesota's Watershed Approach

The Minnesota Watershed Approach addresses the state’s 80 major watersheds, incorporating water quality assessment, watershed analysis, civic engagement, planning, implementation, and measurement of results into a 10-year cycle that addresses both restoration and protection. All 80 watersheds in Minnesota have restoration and protection strategy projects underway. WRAPS reports have been completed for 20% of the watersheds and more are on track for completion this year.

Over the last eight years, we have increased our monitoring efforts. By the end of 2017, we will have all watersheds monitored. In 2018, the monitoring cycle starts again to help us see if water quality has improved.

Governor's goal to improve water quality in Minnesota 25 percent by 2025

The 25 by 2025 goal seeks to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced a new “25 by ‘25” Water Quality Goal to spur innovation and collaboration around strategies to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025. Without additional action, the quality of Minnesota’s waters is expected to improve only 6 to 8 percent by 2034. If approved by the Legislature, Governor Dayton’s proposed new goal would engage local governments, farmers, scientists, environmental groups, and business leaders in a collaborative effort to address Minnesota’s water quality challenges.

“Without an ambitious, achievable goal, the quality of our water will continue to deteriorate,” said Governor Dayton. “Minnesotans must set this goal now, and then work together to achieve it. I ask all Minnesotans to join me in finding solutions that will ensure our children and grandchildren inherit clean water to drink, swim, and fish in. This is everyone’s challenge, and everyone’s responsibility.”

Success story: Bald Eagle Lake

Thanks to many partners and funding sources, Bald Eagle Lake in the northern Twin Cities is meeting state water quality standards for the first time since 1980. Once plagued by algal blooms and murky water, this lake near Hugo is now much healthier for recreation.

The Rice Creek Watershed District worked with several partners and tapped many funding resources for the $1.7 million project:

  • $497,000 from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) Clean Water Fund (CWF), established by the 2008 Legacy Amendment.
  • $400,000 Clean Water Partnership (CWP) loan from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
  • Remainder from the watershed district and Bald Eagle Lake Water Management District, a special tax for lakeshore owners that was initiated by the property owners themselves.

This project is a great example of how state agencies can work with local partners and local businesses and property owners to use the CWF to restore waters based on scientific studies and long-term efforts. “This is an example of good science, strong collaboration, and fiscal responsibility resulting in a successful restoration project,” said Bryan Bear, Hugo city administrator.