US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website


Minnesota River Basin Integrated Watershed Study

Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: Sept. 19, 2019

The Minnesota River originates in southwestern Minnesota at the Minnesota–South Dakota border. It drains 16,770 square miles in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa. It flows 335 miles to join the Mississippi River at Mendota, Minnesota, just south of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Since European settlement, native prairie has been replaced by agriculture and urban development, significantly altering the hydrology of the Minnesota River Basin. These alterations have caused increased erosion, impaired water quality, substantial sediment and nutrient loads, and degraded aquatic ecosystems in the Minnesota River, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

This integrated watershed study produced a watershed assessment to aid water and land managers in the basin. This study examines existing conditions, forecasts future conditions and simulates alternatives to identify conditions that are ecologically sustainable, economically sound and socially desirable.

The result of the study is a report that addresses watershed, water quality and ecosystem restoration needs at both small and large watershed scales.

The study integrates the efforts of local, state, federal and tribal agencies. Public involvement was conducted to ensure that the plan reflects the diverse perspectives of interested stakeholders.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board entered into a Feasibility Cost Share Agreement for the study on September 29, 2008. An interagency study team was formed to coordinate the study activities and oversee technical analysis of the basin.

The study team focused on detailed modeling efforts on portions of the Norway Lake (Kandiyohi County) and Seven Mile Creek (Nicollet County) sub-basins. From these models, the study team scaled up the assessments to the different geographic regions of the watershed and determine how various land and water management measures could be used effectively throughout the basin to reduce erosion, sedimentation, and flooding and improve water quality and habitat. The draft study report was completed in August 2019 and will be finalized in November 2019.


The Committee on Public Works of the U.S. House of Representatives authorized the study by a resolution on May 10, 1962, to determine the advisability of further improvements in the Minnesota River Basin for navigation, flood risk management, recreation, low flow augmentation, and other related water and land resources.


Estimated federal cost                               $4,520,000
Estimated non-federal cost                       $4,520,000
Estimated total cost                                   $9,040,000

Federal funds allocated to date               $4,520,000