Provide feedback on the Priority Waters List


Shape the next Priority Waters List. We invite you to offer feedback on the Metropolitan Council’s approach to developing the Priority Waters List and our preliminary results. The new list builds on the success of our Priority Lakes List, last updated in 2015, and now includes rivers and streams.

With more than 950 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams in the seven-county metro area, the Priority Waters List will support the region in effective management of our waterbodies. It will:

  • Guide how the Met Council allocates limited resources to monitor, assess, plan for, and improve the region's waterbodies.
  • Provide a key lens for developing policies and activities to include in the 2050 Water Resources Policy Plan. It will inform how the Met Council can align with the priorities of local, regional, and state partners, and provide value for those partners.
  • Offer insights to other organizations as they prioritize projects and spend their valued resources.

For the purposes of this page, "waterbody" is defined as a lake, river, or stream.

The Met Council has had a version of a Priority Waters List since 1982; it was previously called the Priority Lakes List. We updated our Priority Lakes List in 2015 as part of the Water Resources Policy Plan Update. This new version includes rivers and streams as well as lakes. With more than 950 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams in the region, waterbodies needed to be prioritized to adequately dedicate staff and financial resources.

Tips on providing feedback

  • Understand how to interpret the list. Please review the Priority Waters List Approach, Water History and Context, and Scoring Categories sections.
  • Review the list itself in the Draft Priority Waters List section.
  • Interested in a deep dive? Review the Data and Methods section for analysis details.
  • Tell us what you think — what resonates and what to improve. Go to Provide Feedback to answer questions designed to help us finalize our approach to creating the Priority Waters list.

We are taking a broad approach with the Priority Waters List because our regional planning work needs to support and reflect the region's values. Waterbodies included on the Priority Waters List have been determined by our staff to be regionally significant based on the benefits these waterbodies provide. Identifying these waterbodies is important, so that their benefits can be protected and fostered as the region continues to develop and change. This approach supports the Met Council's mission to foster efficient and economic growth for a prosperous metropolitan region, and directly supports the five outcomes (PDF) from our most recent regional development guide, Thrive MSP 2040.

Our partners, including state, regional, and local agencies and organizations, allocate resources to waterbodies in a variety of ways. The most common is through a focus on completing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies and on improving and restoring impaired waterbodies. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), through its enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act, directs resources to establish TMDLs for waters of the state. In recent years the MPCA has prioritized further by focusing financial and staff resources on waterbodies that are nearly or barely impaired, and waterbodies that have high risk of becoming impaired. Following the MPCA's lead and in accordance with local municipal stormwater (MS4) permits, many metro area organizations have prioritized resources based on impairment status for their waterbodies as well.

Our approach to developing this Priority Waters List is focused on benefits, while other organizations are focused on impairments. These two complementary approaches should pair well to manage water resources more holistically in the region.

The Priority Waters List focuses on waterbodies deemed regionally significant. This was determined using regional scale datasets. Just because a waterbody is not on the Priority Waters List does not mean it does not have value. That waterbody still may be a priority for an individual city or local community.

The name Minnesota is derived from Mni Sóta Maḳoce, the name that the Dakota people gave this land — their homeland. Mni Sóta Maḳoce is a phrase that means the land where waters reflect the skies.

The landscape of the Twin Cities metro area is dotted with nearly 1,000 lakes and traversed by hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. The waterbodies of this region provide us with drinking water, economic opportunity, and spaces great and small to recreate and reflect. These waterbodies carry history. Over the course of many millennia, geologic processes of glaciation and melting, as well as shifting ecosystems driven by a changing climate, have formed the waterbodies and land of today. Now, as in the past, residents of the metro area derive benefits from our water resources. Waterbodies once too treacherous to cross are now tapped for hydroelectric power, and motorboats glide across lakes and rivers carrying the day's catch.

As the uses and benefits of these waterbodies have changed, so have the people who inhabit this region. Through seizures of land and often misleading treaties, culminating in the 1863 Dakota Expulsion Act, the Dakota people — who had lived in the area for thousands of years — were displaced by white settlers. The scars of this displacement are ever-present. Fort Snelling, the site of Dakota imprisonment in 1862 during the U.S.-Dakota war, looks over Bdote, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, a place of great spiritual significance for the Dakota. Many waterbodies in the seven-county metro have Dakota names. After years of court battles, the lake formerly named after the pro-slavery and pro-Indian removal vice president, John C. Calhoun, had its original name, Bde Maka Ska, restored.

After the Dakota people were expelled from their homeland, white settlers built industries in the region centering around milling and rail. As the region developed and technology progressed, new industries emerged and economic reliance on the Mississippi and other waterbodies shifted. New populations arrived in the region as well. Immigrants from southeast Asia, east Africa, and other parts of the world have made homes in the metro, bringing their own relationships with water.

The Priority Waters List is a snapshot in time. It is an index of the waterbodies that are here now, the ways in which we benefit from them, and the methods we devise to assign value. Determining the value of one lake, one river, or one stream is a complicated task with shortcomings. The interconnectedness of water, from a small pond to deep aquifers to the mighty Mississippi, is a testament to the value of all waterbodies. The Dakota concept of wakąn (PDF) emphasizes the sacredness of all things. As this project lays out a framework for the Met Council to prioritize waterbodies in our region, it is important to embrace wakąn and acknowledge the Eurocentric nature of prioritization.

While the Priority Waters List offers a data-based assessment of waterbodies, the intention of this project is not to label waterbodies as inherently “bad” or “inferior.” Instead, the Priority Waters List highlights the waterbodies that currently supply the greatest benefits to our region.

The waterbodies of the Twin Cities region have been prioritized based on scores calculated from datasets in these seven categories:

Drinking water protection
The likelihood that a waterbody may impact the quality of a regional drinking water source if degraded.

Recreation and tourism
The ability of a waterbody to support visitors and different types of recreation on the water or on shore, such as swimming, boating, fishing, or walking along a trail.

Healthy habitat
The likelihood that a waterbody provides good habitat for native wildlife and vegetation to live and thrive.

Tranquil connection
An estimate of a waterbody’s potential to provide a tranquil outdoor experience, free from distractions of human activity.

Equity
An estimate of a waterbody’s accessibility to communities that may generally have more limited access to benefits waterbodies can provide.

Industry and utility
The degree to which a waterbody provides or supports utility or economic benefits for the region.

Science and education
The extent to which a waterbody supports use for scientific studies or environmental education.

These two additional categories have been identified as important benefits. They were not used for scoring due to a lack of quantitative and comprehensive datasets.

Culture and history
An estimate of a waterbody’s cultural and historical value for people of the region.

Food provisioning
The ability of a waterbody to provide food.

Check in

Do you think we are missing a category, or do we include a category that you think is not important for the region? Do the categories reflect how you/your organization values waterbodies? Please let us know in your feedback.

Waterbodies were scored in the seven quantifiable categories above. These scores then were combined into an overall score for each waterbody. A waterbody qualifies for the list based on top overall and/or category scores. The Data and Methods section provides more details.

Explore the Draft Priority Waters List below. There are two parts of the Priority Waters List: one for lakes, and one for rivers and streams. They are separated because lakes are not directly comparable to rivers and streams, and the methods and data used for prioritizing each are slightly different.

The information is presented in two ways:

  • Searchable and sortable lists. Use the search box to search by waterbody name, filter by county, or click on a column to sort by ID or name.
  • A map. Use the text box to search by address, city, or county, or use your mouse to pan and zoom. Click on a waterbody to see its name.

Map with lakes, rivers, and streams (allows search by city/county and pan/zoom capabilities)

View larger map

Check in

Are the waterbodies you expect on the Priority Waters list? Are key waterbodies you expect to see missing? Is there a waterbody you don’t consider to be a priority included on the list? Please let us know in your feedback.

We selected a data- and analysis-intensive approach to create the Priority Waters List that is as objective and reproducible as possible. Development of the list included selecting datasets, converting datasets into category scores, and combining category scores into an overall score, culminating in selection of the Priority Waters List.

We considered almost 200 quantitative datasets in establishing the Priority Waters List. We primarily relied on existing datasets, produced by the Met Council or local, regional, state, and national partners. A few datasets were generated as part of the project when the underlying data was straight-forward to organize.

Each original dataset was processed in ArcGIS to spatially link the data to the waterbodies in the assessment. Those results were then used to calculate category scores for waterbodies.

Information on datasets and waterbody attributes used to calculate category scores (Excel file)

Data limitations

This project was limited by the quality of existing datasets and the data that is publicly available. We found significant data available in the region that was useful for assessing the benefits of waterbodies, even when it was not perfect. Some datasets were not ideal or had inconsistencies that required us to make assumptions. We needed to assemble other datasets because there was no central agency that manages the underlying information.

Check in

Did we miss a dataset you believe would be useful to the project, use a dataset incorrectly, or incorrectly assess a waterbody for a certain attribute (for example, a lake has a beach but the metadata indicates it does not)? Please let us know in your feedback.

To assign scores to waterbodies, we started by developing baseline lists of waterbodies that would be considered eligible for the Priority Waters List.

Lakes considered for the Priority Waters List are named, open water features greater than 10 acres, are included in the DNR Hydrography dataset, and have a DNR Basin ID. Riverine polygons such as portions of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers are not included in the lakes baseline dataset as they are included in the rivers and streams list. The final baseline dataset of lakes for the Priority Waters List has 711 lakes.

Rivers and streams considered for the Priority Waters List have a drainage area greater than two square miles or are a designated trout stream, are included in the DNR Hydrography dataset, and have a valid DNR Kittle Number. More information about the history of Kittle Numbers (PDF). The final baseline dataset of rivers and streams for the Priority Waters List has 321 rivers and streams.

Each waterbody that satisfies the above criteria was included in our initial dataset and are included in the tables and maps in this Data and Methods section. Meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee a waterbody will be a priority, but a waterbody that does not meet the eligibility criteria will not be listed on the Priority Waters List.

Subdividing rivers and streams

To make rivers and streams more comparable in the analysis, regardless of length, rivers and streams were divided into similar length stretches called reaches. Reaches were divided based on physical features such as at creek inputs, lakes, or a change in channel modification or stream type. Where possible, stream reaches align with MPCA assessment reaches that were subdivided based on physical features.

The final dataset of river and stream reaches being considered for the Priority Waters List has 582 reaches. All category scoring was completed on a reach-by-reach basis.

Waterbodies were scored in seven quantifiable categories. Two additional categories were identified, but they were not scored due to a lack of data. What follows is a description and high-level summary of the approach used for each category.

Drinking water protection

Access to clean drinking water is critically important for all communities. Waterbodies that are direct sources of drinking water or reserve drinking water sources are vital to the region. These waterbodies automatically qualified as Priority Waters.

Separately, a Drinking Water Protection score for each waterbody was calculated, representing its regional importance for drinking water protection, even if a waterbody is not a direct source of drinking water. Drinking Water Protection scores were calculated using a two-step process. First, a waterbody was awarded points based on the likelihood that surface activities in the area may degrade the quality of a drinking water source, for example by contamination through groundwater infiltration or watershed runoff. More points were given to waterbodies in areas where that likelihood is higher. Then, those points were multiplied by a factor representing the number of people who use that source water. The result is a score that prioritizes waterbodies in areas where source waters are used by a larger number of people and are more vulnerable to degradation from surface activities.

Recreation and tourism

Known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Minnesota has access to many water-related recreational activities — from swimming in a lake on a hot summer day to enjoying a walk along a river. Recreation is one of the more common ways a person interacts directly with a waterbody.

Recreational opportunities also go hand-in-hand with tourism. Many of the waterbodies in the Twin Cities are popular destinations for residents and tourist alike, such as Minnehaha Falls, Lake Minnetonka, and Como Park.

Each waterbody received a Recreation and Tourism score using information about regional public access, recreational features, and visitation data.

Waterbodies received points for how accessible they are to the public. Public access was determined by looking for public boat launches and nearby parks and trails. More points were given to waterbodies with both public boat launches and nearby parks and trails, since these provide access to recreational opportunities both on water and on shore. Different numbers of points were given based on the type of boat launch, park, or trail on the waterbody. For example, a state or regional park generally provides more infrastructure to encourage recreation, like restrooms, visitor centers, and picnic shelters, compared to a small local park or trail.

Waterbodies also received points for any recreational features. “Recreational feature” refers to any infrastructure or property of the waterbody that encourages recreation or tourism. This includes features such as public beaches, fishing piers, hunting areas, and more. A waterbody received more points for having more of these features.

Finally, an assessment using cell phone data was used to estimate how many people visit each waterbody relative to other waterbodies in the region. This estimated which waterbodies are the most popular to visit. More points were given to the waterbodies that were more popular.

The points earned from each of the three sections — public access, recreational features, and visitation — were summed together to calculate a waterbody's final Recreation and Tourism score. The highest scoring waterbodies are those that are easily accessible, have features that promote recreational use, and are popular to visit.

Healthy Habitat

Healthy habitats provide a wide range of benefits for wildlife and people. They provide food, water, and shelter for native species in our region such as fish, plants, and birds. They can also provide recreational opportunities, boost physical and mental well-being, and increase nearby property values.

Other benefits of healthy habitat are things we often take for granted, such as flood control, air and water purification, and temperature regulation. Healthy habitats also tend to be more resistant to the effects of extreme weather, which are becoming more common in Minnesota due to our changing climate.

A Healthy Habitat score was calculated for each waterbody. A higher score indicates a greater chance the waterbody provides a healthy habitat, based on the types of species observed at each waterbody and the characteristics and designations of the waterbody and its shoreland.

The first step in calculating the Healthy Habitat score was looking at records of observed species at each waterbody. The species that live in a waterbody can indicate how healthy it is, since some species require very natural conditions, while others can live in degraded conditions. Waterbodies that had observations of species that generally indicate healthier habitat were given higher scores.

Only a fraction of the waterbodies in the region had species observation data. For all other waterbodies, a Healthy Habitat score was calculated using characteristics and designations of the waterbody and the nearby shoreland, which can indicate the potential presence of healthy habitat. Examples of these characteristics and designations included protected unique habitat features, protected shoreland, and nutrient levels. Waterbodies scored points based on each characteristic and designation, which were summed together.

For the waterbodies that did not have any species observations, the points gained from characteristics and designations was the final Healthy Habitat score. For waterbodies with species observations, the final Healthy Habitat score was calculated by taking the points from species observations plus half the points summed from the characteristics and designations. This was done to emphasize the species observations, which are direct indications of healthy habitat, over the characteristics and designation, which indicate the potential for healthy habitat.

Tranquil connection

Natural landscapes allow us to connect with the environment, which can have positive effects on our physical and mental well-being. Waterbodies with limited disturbances provide the opportunity to experience these tranquil and mindful connections with nature.

This category aims to identify waterbodies in the region that can provide a tranquil outdoor experience. "Tranquil" in this context is defined as the ability to enjoy the waterbody free from disturbances.

Calculating the Tranquil Connection score was a two-step process. First, we considered four concepts which may impact a tranquil experience: public boat use, noise pollution from road and air traffic, the amount of natural shoreland, and community type (for example, city center vs. rural). More points were given to waterbodies with restricted public motorboat use, less noise from road and air traffic, more natural shoreland, and located outside of urban centers.

In the second step, the points were multiplied by a factor representing how accessible the waterbody is. Waterbodies that are accessible by shore or by water (boat) were prioritized over waterbodies that don't have any public access. Having public access is what makes the waterbody a regional benefit. The result was the final Tranquil Connection score. A higher score represents the waterbodies that are accessible and likely to provide a tranquil experience in nature.

Equity

Equity is one of five desired outcomes identified in the Metropolitan Council's long-range policy plans for the region: "Equity connects all residents to opportunity and creates viable housing and transportation options for people of all races, ethnicities, incomes and abilities so that all communities share the opportunities and challenges of growth and change. For our region to reach its full economic potential, all of our residents must be able to access opportunity that leads to success, prosperity, and a high quality of life."

The abundant waterbodies in the Twin Cities area provide a variety of benefits to residents. Having the opportunity to access these benefits is important to achieve a more equitable outcome for the region.

One way to increase equitable access to the benefits provided by waterbodies in the region would be to remove barriers that prevent access. This may look like advocating for better transportation or lower park fees to highly recreational waterbodies, or by addressing systemic issues preventing access to clean drinking water sources.

This project used a different approach to promote equity, based on the data available. This category identifies the waterbodies within communities that score high across three metrics representing concepts related to equity — Transportation, Environmental, and Social. Using this approach, waterbodies within these communities that have equity-related characteristics are prioritized, rather than promoting access to the waterbodies in the region that are already well known to have high benefits. The selected approach meets communities where they are at now.

The Transportation metric refers to the ability to access a waterbody without a personal vehicle. Points are awarded to the waterbodies that are accessible to a greater number of people through public transportation. Points are also awarded to waterbodies in areas that have higher percentages of households without a personal vehicle, because these waterbodies would be easier to access by walking, biking, or traveling in a wheelchair.

The Environmental metric refers to the benefits of the waterbody as a natural space. Points are awarded to waterbodies in areas that suffer from higher temperatures on summer days, representing the "heat island effect". In these areas, the waterbody would be especially valuable as a cooling feature. Points are also awarded to waterbodies in areas that otherwise don't have many other natural spaces such as open water, parks, or forests. These waterbodies may be more valuable to communities because they have few alternatives to enjoy natural spaces.

The Social metric refers to demographics that the Metropolitan Council has identified as important for promoting equity in the region - race, ethnicity, age, income, and ability. Points are awarded to waterbodies near communities that have higher percentages of the following characteristics: Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), recent immigration, lower English proficiency, housing cost burden, areas of concentrated poverty, disability, ages under 18, and ages 65 and above.

For each waterbody, the points for the Transportation, Environmental, and Social metrics were summed together. Then, those points were multiplied by a factor representing how accessible the waterbody is. Waterbodies that are accessible by shore or by water (via boat) were prioritized over waterbodies that don't have any public access. The result was the final equity score — a higher score for waterbodies that are accessible and near communities that score higher in the Transportation, Environmental, and Social metrics compared to other communities in the region.

Industry and utility

Waterbodies can be used for utility, commercial, or industrial benefits. For example, large rivers can be used to transport goods on barges and dams can be used to produce hydroelectric power. Some industries use the water from waterbodies for a variety of reasons, such as equipment cooling or irrigation, and wastewater treatment facilities typically discharge their treated water back into local waterways.

Each waterbody received a score based on Industry and Utility uses. The uses considered were significant water withdrawal for non-drinking water purposes (for example, for irrigation or to cool equipment), hydroelectric power generation, receiving treated water from wastewater treatment facilities, and barge navigation. A waterbody received points for each use it currently has. Higher scores indicate waterbodies that have multiple Industry and Utility uses.

Science and education

Waterbodies can be used to grow our understanding of the natural world. Scientists actively monitor waterbodies in our region to better understand how they function. Waterbodies can also be used as educational tools to help teach concepts about the environment.

Each waterbody's Science and Education score was generated by looking for specific programs that use the waterbody for science and education purposes. Specifically, points were awarded to waterbodies that are part of a long-term academic or government scientific study, waterbodies with a nearby nature center, and waterbodies used for environmental engagement near campsites or as part of urban fishing outreach efforts. Each of these areas awarded a different number of points to contribute to the waterbody's total Science and Education score.

Food provisioning

Some foods can be harvested directly from the environment, which is a use known as food provisioning. Wild rice harvesting is an example of food provisioning in Minnesota. Additionally, some communities in the region practice subsistence fishing, where they fish as a significant source of food.

While food provisioning is an important use and benefit, it was not used to help determine the Priority Waters List. We were not able to find data to determine which waterbodies are used more often for food provisioning. There are a few recorded wild rice stands in the region, but most of the significant wild rice harvesting in the state occurs in central and northern Minnesota. Despite not using the wild rice dataset for this category, it was used in the Healthy Habitat category. There also are no datasets that generally identify which waterbodies are more often fished for food versus fished as a recreational pastime.

Culture and history

Culture and history help shape who we are and can influence our identity and values, having a significant impact on our experiences. As the metropolitan center of Minnesota, it's important to recognize that our waterbodies have significant cultural and historical value. Some waterbodies have noteworthy contributions to the history of this area. All waterbodies have value to the cultures of the people who live or once lived here.

Despite the importance of waterbodies in our history and culture, this category was not used to help determine the Priority Waters List. We considered several datasets to try and estimate a waterbody's cultural and historical importance, but each was incomplete or limited. There are many cultures in the region with different connections to waterbodies, so using datasets which only represent some of those cultures would be biased.

For example, we considered using the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) dataset, which is the U.S. government’s official list of historic places worthy of preservation. A site must meet certain criteria to be eligible for this NRHP dataset. In Minnesota’s history, the indigenous people were forcibly removed from their homelands, disconnecting them from their important cultural and historical sites. As a result, the National Register of Historic Places dataset is not representative of all communities that live in the Twin Cities region. For example, Bdote, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, is considered a sacred place of creation to many Dakota people, but it is not on the NRHP dataset. Additionally, given the historical mistreatment of the US government against tribal nations, there is little reason for tribal nations to trust U.S. governmental agencies with information about their important and sacred sites.

When using this Priority Waters List for a project that will impact a waterbody, you should connect with local tribes and communities to understand how they value and interact with the waterbody as part of their culture and history.

To select the overall Priority Waters List, the seven quantifiable category scores were combined into an overall category score, and the overall category and category scores were used to select the overall Priority Waters List. What follows is a description and high-level summary of that approach.

Overall Category Score

After calculating a score for each waterbody for each of the seven quantifiable categories, waterbodies received an overall Priority Waters score as a weighting of the seven categories. The overall score was calculated based on how Twin Cities residents value their waterbodies for the multiple uses and the benefits they provide.

The weights for each category were developed by reviewing feedback from Met Council leaders and team members on our understanding of the relative value of the different waterbody categories to the residents of the region, and then adjusted iteratively to reach the final draft list.

The weights should roughly correspond to how residents value their waterbodies. We are currently engaging with the University of Minnesota on a Water Values survey to quantify how residents throughout the metro place value on their drinking water, waterbodies, and wastewater treatment. This project will illuminate the various regional, cultural, and personal perspectives each of us has with water and how we value our interactions with it. Information from the survey will help to inform our next round of water policy to ensure that the regional policies reflect our residents' water values. Based on the results of the survey effort, we may need to revise the Priority Waters category weights and the Priority Waters List at a later date.

Score weightings for developing the lakes list and the rivers and streams list:

Lakes overall score weighting of categories

Drinking Water Protection
Healthy Habitat
Recreation and Tourism
Equity
Science and Education
Tranquil Connection
Industry and Utility
5% 25% 27.5% 10% 10% 20% 2.5%
 

Rivers and Streams overall score weighting of categories

Drinking Water Protection
Healthy Habitat
Recreation and Tourism
Equity
Science and Education
Tranquil Connection
Industry and Utility
5% 25% 25% 10% 10% 20% 5%


Note that the “Drinking Water Protection” category weight may appear low, but drinking water sources and reserve water sources are automatically included on the Priority Waters List. The “Drinking Water Protection” category is a score of a water’s regional importance for drinking water protection, as described in the “Drinking Water Protection” section above.

River and stream reaches have a higher Industry and Utility weight than lakes. The Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix rivers have an important role in shaping the economic landscape of the Twin Cities region, which is reflected in that weight. There are Industry and Utility uses for lakes, but we felt they did not rise to the level of rivers. For this reason, part of the Industry and Utility weight for rivers and streams was added to the “Recreation and Tourism” weight for lakes. We believe Recreation is a key value for lakes in the region but somewhat less so for rivers and streams.

Check in

Do the category weights reflect how you/your organization value waterbodies? Please let us know in your feedback.


Creation of the Priority Waters List

The overall scores and the category scores were used to create the Priority Waters List. There are two parts of the Priority Waters List: one for lakes and one for rivers and streams. They are separated because category and overall scores were calculated slightly differently, and the process to select waterbodies for each list was slightly different as well. The process for selecting waterbodies for the list uses the top overall scores, representing well-rounded waterbodies, as well as the top category scores, acknowledging waterbodies that excel in meeting one specific use or benefit.

A lake was selected for the priority list if it met any of the following conditions:

  • Currently used as a drinking water source or reserved as a backup drinking water source
  • Has one of the top 120 overall scores, calculated from the seven quantifiable categories
  • Has one of the top 20 category scores for Recreation and Tourism, Healthy Habitat, Tranquil Connection, or Equity

Following this process, the draft Priority Waters List includes 156 lakes. The length of this list was determined to be manageable and useful by Met Council leadership to make resource decisions. See a sortable list of all baseline lakes with an indication of whether the lake qualified for the list and why.

A river or stream was selected for the priority list if it met any of the following conditions:

  • Has at least one reach currently used as a drinking water source or reserved as a backup drinking water source
  • Has at least one reach in the top 125 overall scores, calculated from the seven quantifiable categories
  • Has at least one reach in the top 20 category scores for Recreation and Tourism, Healthy Habitat, Tranquil Connection, or Equity

Scoring for rivers and streams occurred on a reach-by-reach basis, but the Priority Waters List lists entire rivers and streams across all reaches. Some rivers and streams may have only one prioritized reach, and others may have several.

Following this process, the draft Priority Waters List includes 78 rivers and streams. The length of this list was determined to be manageable and useful by Met Council leadership to make resource decisions. See a sortable list of all baseline rivers and streams, with an indication of the whether the river or stream qualified for the list and why.

See a map of all baseline waterbodies. This map allows search by address, city, or county, or use your mouse to pan and zoom. There are separate layers for each of the conditions that qualify a waterbody for the Priority Waters List: used as a drinking water source, top overall score, and top category score, which can be toggled on and off.

Thank you for reviewing the materials associated with the Priority Waters List. Please let us know your thoughts on anything related to the creation of the draft list, including the list itself, the method, additional datasets to consider, mistakes you believe we have made, or anything else you feel is pertinent.

Or email feedback to Emily Resseger, project manager, at emily.resseger@metc.state.mn.us.

Contact us

Emily Resseger
Project Manager
651-602-1033
Emily.Resseger@metc.state.mn.us