Rum River

Watershed at a Glance

The Rum River watershed covers 997,060 acres in east-central Minnesota. The watershed lies within both the Northern Lakes and Forests and North Central Hardwoods Forest ecoregions.  Parts of Aitkin, Crow Wing, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Kanabec, Benton, Isanti, Chisago, Sherburne, and Anoka counties are in the Rum watershed. The headwaters for the Rum begin at Mille Lacs Lake. and the river flows 145 miles to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Anoka.

Hydrologic Unit Code:07010207
Intensive monitoring start year:2013
Major lakesMajor rivers and streams
Mille Lacs, Onamia, Borden
Rum, Bogus Brook, Mike Drew Brook

The Rum River watershed includes 212 lakes that are over 10 acres in size. Land use in the Rum River watershed is 39% agricultural, 24% forested, 18% grass/shrub/wetland, and 15% water.

Only a handful of lakes do not meet water quality standards for beneficial uses, such as aquatic recreation, drinking, and swimming. The main lake pollutant is phosphorus, causing algae blooms in summer months. The Rum River is designated as a "wild and scenic river." The upper river valley has one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric sites in Minnesota.

    What's being done

    Monitoring and assessment

    Biological, chemistry and flow monitoring occurred in 2013 on several key stream reaches throughout the watershed. Volunteers and local government units, in addition to MPCA staff, conducted lake and stream monitoring on several key lakes throughout the watershed.

    Strategy development for restoration and protection

    What is a watershed?

    Illustration showing contour of land directing flow of water

    Learn the basics of a watershed.

    Mille Lacs Soil & Water Conservation District

    1016 5th St. SE
    Milaca, MN 56353

    Anoka Conservation District

    1318 McKay Drive NE, Suite 300
    Ham Lake, MN 55304

    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.