Clean Water Progress

In the news you hear a lot about all of the pollution problems we have in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and those are real problems. But what you don’t hear about as much are the successes that nonprofits (like the Cannon River Watershed Partnership), cities (like Northfield and Faribault) and county and state agencies (like Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) are having as they work to clean up and protect the rivers, lakes, and drinking water that we depend on for swimming, fishing, boating, and drinking.

Overall, the Cannon River Watershed is a healthy watershed with some room for clean water improvement. Those improvements will make the area even better for the familes and businesses that live, work, and recreate in the region.

“With one of Minnesota’s seven Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Cannon River watershed (CRW) in southeast Minnesota drains 946,440 diverse acres before emptying into the Mississippi. Healthy aquatic dynamics, declining phosphorus and sediment loads and robust community support for clean water and a healthy watershed characterize the CRW today. Of the 125 DNR biological sites, 80% rate good with over 47 fish species while 61 sites show 1,344 live mussels representing 15 species. In the last fifteen years, three dams have been removed and today, 38,923 acres are permanently protected. Investments in waste water treatment, increases in perennial vegetative cover and watershed-wide community engagement secure the CRW’s health now and for the future.”

–A Statement on the Health of the Cannon River Watershed by CRWP Conservation Manager Alan Kraus, 2018


Cover crops, like this annual ryegrass, keep soil covered and captures nitrogen fertilizer before it can run off into rivers and lakes or leach into groundwater. CRWP has been working with farmers to get more acres of cover crops on the ground in the region.

Below are two pdf reports that show signs of clean water progress.

Signs of Progress click here for a pdf of our 2011 review of how CRWP and other groups are succeeding in cleaning up our rivers, lakes, and drinking water in the Cannon River Watershed.

Water Quality Trends for Minnesota Rivers and Lakes click here for a pdf of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report on the long-term trends on the major rivers and lakes in Minnesota. In most cases, sedimentation and phosphorus pollution is decreasing in area rivers while nitrogen pollution is increasing.