Lower Minnesota River

Watershed at a Glance

The Minnesota River: Evaluating its health [highlight]


The Lower Minnesota River watershed includes the lowest reach of the Minnesota River and flows into the Mississippi at Fort Snelling. The second largest watershed in the Minnesota River Basin, it covers 1,760 square miles, divided by the Minnesota River itself. Major tributaries in the rural part of the watershed include the Rush River and High Island Creek. Tributaries in the urban area include Bevens Creek, Carver Creek, Sand Creek, Nine Mile Creek, and the Credit River, among others. A relatively flat section of river, the 50-mile stretch of the Minnesota contained within this watershed drops approximately 90 feet in elevation from the small town of Ottawa in Le Sueur County, to its confluence with the Mississippi River in St. Paul.

Hydrologic Unit Code:07020012
Intensive monitoring start year:2014
Major lakesMajor rivers and streams
Waconia, High Island, Long Meadow, Erin
Rush River, High Island Creek, Bevens Creek, Carver Creek, Sand Creek, Nine Mile Creek, Credit River


The western part of the watershed is rural and the middle and eastern portions are urban. Most of the population in the Minnesota River Basin lives in this watershed, including the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The watershed includes Sibley and Scott counties, and portions of Le Sueur, Carver, Hennepin, Dakota, Rice, Nicollet, Renville and McLeod counties.

Water quality concerns include levels of sediment, bacteria, nutrients and chloride, and their impacts to fish and other aquatic life.

What's being done

Intensive water monitoring started in 2014 and will end in 2015.

Future work includes:

  • Identification of conditions stressing water quality and biology will begin in 2016: PDF icon Is your stream stressed?
  • The intensive and monitoring report is scheduled for completion in 2017, as well as the stressor identification report.
  • The MPCA is working with local partners to set up opportunities for public participation.
  • The agency plans to finish the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies in 2018.

Implementation plans

Monitoring and assessment reports and data


What is a watershed?

Illustration showing contour of land directing flow of water

Learn the basics of a watershed.

Rural area - Bryan Spindler, MPCA project manager

Mankato Office

Brady Swanson

Sibley County Watershed Coordinator
400 Court Avenue
Gaylord, MN 55334

Nicollet County SWCD

424 South Minnesota Ave
St. Peter, MN 56082

Sibley County SWCD

111 6th Street
Gaylord, MN 55334

Renville County SWCD

1008 West Lincoln Street
Olivia, MN 56277

McLeod County SWCD

2570 9th Street East
Glencoe, MN 55336

Black Dog WMO
Gun Club Lake WMO
Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek WD
Barb Peichel,

Lower Minnesota River WD
Scott County WMO
Brooke Asleson

Carver County WMO
Nine Mile Creek WD
Prior Lake-Spring Lake WD
Richfield-Bloomington WMO
Chris Zadak

Twin Cities Metropolitan Area watersheds

There are 33 watershed districts (WD) and watershed management organizations (WMO) in the Twin Cities Metro Area. These metro watersheds are in 8 major (8-digit) watersheds: the Rum River, Lower St. Croix, Mississippi River (Twin Cities), Mississippi River (Lake Pepin), Minnesota River (Shakopee), South Fork Crow River, North Fork Crow River, and Cannon River watersheds. These WDs/WMOs are formed and regulated by MN Rules Chapter 8410.

A number of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Studies and Implementation Plans have already been completed or are underway for impaired waters in metro watersheds. Moving forward TMDL studies will be done in conjunction with watershed restoration and protection strategies (WRAPS) reports, which will contain the needed implementation strategy elements. Metro WRAPS will follow the timing and guidance of the watershed approach, but note that these will be completed at the metro WD/WMO scale.

MPCA staff also review metro watershed management plans that are developed by watershed districts and watershed management organizations.


A list of MPCA staff contacts by metro watershed is available on the Twin Cities Metro watersheds page.