Minnesota River Navigation Project

U.S. Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Sept. 27, 2021
Updated: April 4, 2022
Location/Description

The St. Paul District is responsible for maintaining the 9-foot navigation channel on the Minnesota River from the mouth in St. Paul, Minnesota , to river mile 14.7 in Savage, Minnesota, and 4-foot channel depth from river mile 14.7 to 25.6 in Shakopee, Minnesota. Annual channel maintenance actions are required to maintain the congressionally authorized 9-foot channel depth. These channel maintenance activities consist of dredging, snag removal, and close monitoring of the conditions. 

The St. Paul District dredges approximately 19,000 cubic yards of material per year from seven distinct locations on the Minnesota River. Both government and contract hydraulic and mechanical dredges are used. Dredged material placement is planned for the long-term and is actively managed to maximize beneficial use of the material and to minimize adverse environmental impacts within the riverine environment.

Status

Annual operation and maintenance is required to ensure safe, reliable navigation. Coordination with project users, other river resource agencies, and the public is crucial to a successful program. Operational agreements have been developed with state regulatory agencies to facilitate channel maintenance. The Lower Minnesota River Watershed District is the non-federal sponsor for the project. It is responsible for acquiring and maintaining dredged material placement sites.

The Minnesota River 9-foot channel navigation project, effectively the head of navigation for the Upper Mississippi River navigation project, is an essential component of the nation’s transportation infrastructure supporting commerce. Several of the nation's largest agri-business corporations (Cargill, Cenex, and Bunge) operate terminals on the Minnesota River and depend upon a reliable navigation system for movement of their commodities. The Minnesota River transports approximately one-fourth of the 16 million tons annually shipped in and out of Minnesota with an annual economic value in excess of $362,000,000. These commodities include: corn, soybeans, wheat, limestone, salt and fertilizer.

As a part of the Dredged Material Management Plan, a placement site was constructed on land acquired from Cargill in 2010. This plan provides the long-term management of dredging and placement site requirements along the Minnesota River for both the Corps and private industry.

Authority

In 1892, the River and Harbor Act authorized the maintenance of a 4-foot navigation channel from the mouth to mile 25.6. The River and Harbor Act of 1958 authorized the existing 9-foot navigation channel.

Fiscal

Operation and maintenance of the project is funded under the Corps of Engineers Civil Works Operation and Maintenance appropriation through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The average annual funding for the maintenance of the navigation channel on the Minnesota River for fiscal years 2015 through 2019 was $261,000. Funding was not included in the fiscal year 2020 President’s Budget, but $260,000 was received in fiscal year 2021 and $265,00 is included in the fiscal year 2022 President’s Budget.