In 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 MCES began assessing the Mississippi River’s water quality. Today, more than 150 river miles are monitored in the Twin Cities Metropolitan 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, to document long-term changes in water quality and assess and characterize biological communities and riverbed sediments.
The four major components of the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) River Monitoring Program include:
View map of MCES river monitoring network (pdf).
See the most recent River Quality Technical Summary (pdf).
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. Click here to learn more about it and access the full report, a technical summary, and fact sheets.