Mississippi River - Sartell


The Mississippi River–Sartell watershed includes approximately 652,800 acres (1,020 square miles) in the central part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The watershed is also known locally as the PlatteSpunk Rivers watershed. The Mississippi River–Sartell watershed has 879 total river miles and contains 232 lakes with a total size of 13,319 acres. 

This watershed is primarily agricultural, with approximately 96% of the land under private ownership. Major land uses include grass/pasture/hay (35%), row crops (29%), forest (19%), and wetlands (9%). 

A review of water quality data on these lakes reveals that most of the lakes in the watershed have good water quality and transparency. Two Rivers Lake and Little Rock Lake have high levels of nutrients present that can result in algal blooms and create murky water. Monitoring of nutrients, in particular phosphorus, and sediment in streams reflects the different land uses in the watershed. Lower levels of sediment in streams are seen east of Highway 10; this is attributed to less intensive agricultural activities in this part of the watershed. Erosion of soils from the watershed and in the stream channel are typically the primary sources of sediment. Phosphorus in streams generally increases from north to south. This is indicative of more cropland and a higher density of livestock operations in the southern part of the watershed. 

Bacteria are also monitored throughout the watershed.  There are high concentrations found in different parts of the watershed, which can be attributed to wastewater (treatment plants, pipes, and septic systems), livestock, wildlife, pets, and other natural sources.  

The water quality in the Mississippi River–Sartell watershed varies, and the causes of poor water quality are not yet understood. The MPCA and its partners are leading a study to investigate the sources of contaminants and provide strategies to restore and protect the waters, referred to as a WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy). The WRAPS is anticipated to be completed in 2019

For more information on the WRAPS process visit the MPCA website

To learn more about the water quality of the Mississippi River - Sartell Watershed and what you can do to protect it, see the following: