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.
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
Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) and TMDL reports
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed Approach Civic Engagement Project (wq-ws4-55c)
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed WRAPS Report (wq-ws4-58a) (MPCA approval 2/10/2020)
- Summary: Lower Minnesota River Watershed WRAPA (wq-ws4-55b)
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed TMDL Report Part I (wq-iw7-49e) [EPA approval of TMDL (Parts I, II, III) 3/13/2020]
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed TMDL Report Part II (wq-iw7-50e)
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed TMDL Report Part III (wq-iw7-51e)
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw7-49g)
The TMDL reports were open for public comment from July 22 to Sept. 20, 2019. The MPCA thanks everyone who submitted comments. Each comment was fully considered and in many cases resulted in edits to the report. Comments and MPCA’s responses have been posted.
Monitoring and assessment and stressor identification
Intensive water monitoring was completed in 2015.
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report (wq-ws3-07020012b)
- Summary: Lower Minnesota River Watershed monitoring and assessment report (wq-ws3-07020012c)
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed Streams Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07020012c)
- Lower Minnesota River Watershed Lakes Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07020012d)
Previous implementation plans
- Minnesota River bacteria TMDL and strategies report
- Kohlman Lake Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plan - Draft
- Carver Creek Lakes TMDL Implementation Plan
- Fecal Coliform TMDL Implementation Plan for the High Island Creek and Rush River
- Burandt Lake TMDL Implementation Plan
- Reitz Lake TMDL Implementation Plan
- Lower Minnesota River Dissolved Oxygen TMDL Implementation Plan
- Carver, Bevens, and Silver Creeks Bacterial TMDL Implementation Plan
When lakes and rivers are polluted with phosphorus, sediment, and other contaminants, it can take years of effort and expense to restore water quality. But this restoration work is having an impact.
Water quality in the Lower Minnesota River Watershed has persistent problems with excess phosphorus, sediment, bacteria, and other contaminants, according to a new MPCA report.