The Mississippi River is 'in great shape' – until it flows through cities and farms

The river is healthy ... until it passes through St. Cloud.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Mississippi River is healthy ... until it passes through St. Cloud.

That's according to a new report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA looked at pollutants and wildlife along 510 miles of the river – stretching from Lake Itasca to St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis – as well as the 20,105 square miles of land and tributaries that drain into the river.

The upper half of the river (see the infographic below) is "in great shape," the MPCA says, thanks to the forests and wetlands in the area.

But then south of St. Cloud – after the river winds through cities and farmland – the river gets cloudy and bacteria-filled because of polluted runoff. Those pollutants include sediment that mucks up the water, nutrients that cause algal blooms, and bacteria that can make the water unsafe for swimming.

And by the time the waterway reaches the Twin Cities, the Mississippi no longer meets water quality standards for swimming, boating or aquatic life.

How this impacts things

These pollutants are a problem, the MPCA says. Not only do they increase the mercury levels in fish (that means people should limit how much they eat), but it also affects drinking water for millions of Minnesotans – and the Americans who live farther downstream.

“What we do on the land is reflected in the water,” MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine said in a statement. “This study underscores that point.”

But there are ways to make sure the river gets and stays clean for future generations. The MPCA says it's important to make sure wetlands and forests in northern Minnesota aren't developed and used (they help filter the water, keeping the river clean like it is now). The agency also says we could take more steps to prevent pollution and farmland runoff from getting into the river by adding more buffers, using fertilizer and manure more effectively, and increasing conservation efforts on farm and urban land, the report says.

The MPCA plans to do similar studies to evaluate other rivers in Minnesota, including the Minnesota, Rainy, Red and St. Croix.

Next Up

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Watch: Gopher alums Antoine Winfield Jr., Tyler Johnson make key plays in Bucs' playoff win

The Minnesota greats had a pair of highlights as Tampa Bay advanced to the NFC Championship.

Er-hgw7XYAQup5n

Crews respond to fire at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights

It's reported that a greenhouse on the grounds was on fire.

Marcus Carr

Why the Gophers could be in line for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament

The Gophers are done with a brutal stretch and are poised to make a run.

police tape

Authorities ID man fatally struck by 'errant bullet' in Willmar

The man was working in his garage when he was fatally shot.

ambulance

1 dead, 1 critically injured in head-on crash on Highway 169

The State Patrol says driving impaired may have been a factor in the crash.

Richard Pitino

Gophers game against Nebraska postponed due to COVID outbreak

The Cornhuskers have had 12 members of its team test positive for COVID-19.

Bob Kroll

What Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll said in Sunday radio interview

Kroll said that once he's retired he'll go "radio silent."

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for Sunday, January 17

The health department provides updates daily at 11 a.m.

Sen. Julia Coleman

'No one's business': State senator calls out attack on her pregnancy

Sen. Julia Coleman represents Minnesota's District 47.

Willmar Police Department

'Errant bullet' goes through garage wall, kills Willmar man

The man was working in his garage when he was shot, witnesses said.

Related

Human waste, garbage will flow into the river if DAPL protest camps aren't cleared

The water is going to rise, and the encampment is probably going to flood.

Protesters have until 2 p.m. to leave Dakota Access Pipeline camp

The evacuation is taking place for safety reasons and to prevent an "ecological disaster" as nearby river levels surge.

Report: States are failing to reduce toxic pollution entering the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River Collaborative said in a report this week that the river basin continues to be polluted by nutrients from farming and wastewater treatment plants.

Trains derail in St. Paul, spill fuel into the Mississippi River

About 3,500 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the river.

mississippi river 13

Photos: Rare drawdown of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis attracts hundreds

The river was about 12 feet lower than normal, exposing riverbeds and pieces of history.

Kayakers rescued from Mississippi River

Two kayakers, ages 16 and 21, were rescued Tuesday after they lost control of their kayaks in the fast-moving Mississippi River and ended up yelling for help on an island in Sauk Rapids near St. Cloud.