Upper Mississippi River TMDL

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has identified several Mississippi River reaches from St. Cloud to St. Paul in the Mississippi River-Twin Cities watershed of the Upper Mississippi River Basin as impaired for bacteria. The Upper Mississippi River Bacteria TMDL Project will address these impairments for parts of 9 counties and 32 cities. The MPCA and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are partnering to lead this project in close coordination with area land and watershed management organizations (including Benton SWCD), cities and counties, and agencies to develop a TMDL report and implementation plan. The ultimate goal of this project is to improve and restore the water quality of the Upper Mississippi River.


umr tmdl map


Minnesota's water quality standard for E. coli bacteria in streams is 126 organisms per 100 milliliters of water. Testing for pathogens in water bodies is difficult, so indicator organisms such as E. coli bacteria are used to indicate the likelihood that a river contains disease-causing pathogens. E. coli comes from human, livestock, pet, and wildlife waste. Bacteria can be transferred to water bodies from stormwater systems, areas with field-applied manure fertilizer or storage, non-compliant septic systems, connected water bodies, or feedlots.


The process for conducting the TMDL study will consist of evaluating the water quality problem, determining the sources of the pollutant, allocating pollutant loads to sources and areas, and developing a plan for implementing activities to restore water quality.


Further information can be found on the MPCA's Upper Mississippi River TMDL page.