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Lower Minnesota River

river in Lower Minnesota River watershed

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.


Bryan Spindler
Watershed project manager