• Is it safe to swim in the Mississippi? Is it safe to swim in the Mississippi? Bacterial concentrations can affect recreational users of the river. The report details areas of bacterial impairment.
  • How is agricultural pollution affecting water quality? How is agricultural pollution affecting water quality? The report details concentrations of phosphorous, nitrate, sediment and other pollutants resulting from agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed.
  • How have populations of river-dependent wildlife fared in recent years? How have populations of river-dependent wildlife fared in recent years? Eagles populations have rebounded, but contaminants remain a threat to healthy reproduction.
  • Is is safe to eat the fish I catch? Is is safe to eat the fish I catch? Locally-caught fish may contain contaminants harmful to humans. The report provides guidelines on reducing your exposure and improving fishery health.
  • What can I do to improve water quality and river health? What can I do to improve water quality and river health? Our Stewardship Guide lists several simple steps you can take to help reduce pollution in the Mississippi River watershed, like safely disposing of medications.




“So, how is the Mississippi River?”

It’s a question we get asked quite often and it can be hard to know how to respond.

We wanted to find out how to answer that question accurately, and we knew a lot of people would be interested. So Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) and the National Park Service (NPS) teamed up to develop this report.

The Mississippi River is a large and complex natural system, with many factors affecting its overall health and vitality. While the river’s water quality and ecological health have improved over time, it is also facing some distressing trends and challenges moving forward.

The State of the River Report highlights 13 key indicators of river health, and details the results in way that non-scientists can understand. The report provides a current snapshot, as well as history and trends, of factors affecting the health of the river and solutions to help protect and improve the metro portion of the Mississippi River.

By presenting clear and concise information on important factors of water quality and river health, the State of the River Report offers readers the opportunity to learn more about this resource and contribute to its protection and restoration.

Companion Guides and Stewardship Pledge

We know that clean water is everyone’s responsibility, and we can all do our part to help protect this vital natural resource. To help readers make use of the State of the River Report, we’ve also created two companion guides and our Stewardship Pledge.

  • Stewardship Guide
    The Stewardship Guide provides practical steps that individuals can take in their home, yard, and community to improve the health of the Mississippi.

  • Policy Guide
    The Policy Guide offers priority actions that federal, state, and local leaders can take for the river.

  • Stewardship Pledge
    Complete the Stewardship Pledge to commit to take action at home and in your community to protect and preserve Minnesota’s water resources.

Looking Forward

While the challenges facing the river are complex and daunting, it is clear that this is a resource worthy of restoration. Forty years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, 24 years after the river became a national park, and 19 years after concerned citizens formed Friends of the Mississippi River, we have made great strides in protecting and preserving this unique natural resource.

We remain hopeful that with strong leadership and vocal support from river lovers across our state and nation, we can pass a cleaner, healthier and more vibrant Mississippi River on to future generations.