Surface Water

The quality and quantity of water in the region’s lakes, rivers, and streams sustain the health of wildlife habitat and ecosystems and enhance the quality of life for people. Individual lakes and streams are important to their host communities, providing opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing.

In addition, the region’s lakes, streams, and wetlands together form a system that discharges water into the region’s major rivers, which provide drinking water for the urban core, recreational uses, and barge transportation that support the region’s economy and quality of life.

Plentiful, high-quality water is essential to achieving regional outcomes of stewardship, prosperity, equity, livability, and sustainability. The Metropolitan Council is committed to working with partners to protect, conserve, and utilize the surface and groundwater resources in the region.

Sustainable surface water management using a watershed approach

Focusing on the natural characteristics and functions of watersheds provides an essential tool for managing water resources. Guided by the 2040 Water Resources Policy Plan, the Met Council works closely with our partners to develop and implement a regional watershed-based approach that addresses both improving impaired waters and protecting unimpaired waters. In this capacity, we:

  • Review and comment on local comprehensive plans, local water plans, and watershed management plans, to ensure they are achieving state and regional goals.
  • Provide technical and financial assistance to local governments and other partners on water issues and water management activities.
  • Facilitate discussions on regional water issues that transcend community or watershed organization boundaries.

Assessing and protecting regional water resources

The Met Council, together with our many partners, is also responsible for surface water monitoring and assessment in the region. We conduct special studies that look at aspects of water quality management. We:

  • Monitor the quality of regional lakes and rivers and the quality and flow of streams.
  • Work with our partners to fill gaps in assessments of lake, stream, river, and groundwater data.
  • Assess and evaluate long-term water quality trends for the region’s lakes, streams, and rivers and identifies key issues to be addressed.
  • Maintain a regional database, Environmental Information Management Systems (EIMS), that contains easily accessible water quality, quantity, and other water-related information collected as part of the Council’s monitoring programs.

Additional resources


For questions or comments, please contact Judy Sventek at [email protected] or 651-602-1156.