Regional River Water Quality

Image of Mississippi River near downtown St. Paul, MNIn 1927, the Minnesota and Wisconsin boards of health  declared the Mississippi River a public health hazard.  Raw sewage and other wastes were discharged directly into the river.  At that time, a predecessor agency to Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) began assessing the Mississippi River’s water quality. Today, more than 150 river miles are monitored in the Twin Cities metro area via 22 long-term monitoring sites on 5 rivers: the Mississippi, Minnesota, St. Croix, Rum, and Vermillion Rivers.  These large rivers are monitored for a variety of physical, chemical, and biological variables. The goal is to document long-term changes in water quality, and assess and characterize biological communities and riverbed sediments.

The four major components of the MCES river monitoring program include:

View map of MCES river monitoring network (pdf).

See the most recent River Quality Technical Summary (pdf).

Cover of River Assessment Report and link to PDF of report.

Regional River Assessment 

In 2018, MCES published a report documenting recent conditions and changes of water quality in the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix rivers in the metro area from 1976 to 2015. Learn more about it and access the full report, a technical summary, and fact sheets.

Data & Report Requests
    River Monitoring Reports

    Older reports not available on our web site may be obtained by emailing a request to MCES