Man fishing in stormwater outfall, Nicollet Island

Credit: Clint McMahon via CC BY-NC-SA via ⋅ Image resolution reduced and gradient and graphic elements overlaid.


Water quality

Swimmer’s ick: E. Coli bacteria in our river water

E. Coli originates as an intestinal bacteria in living creatures including humans, and finds its way into the river. Contact with water with high levels of E. Coli can make humans sick. The state is currently working on a plan to reduce E. Coli in this portion of the river. Generally, the bacteria levels in the Mississippi River between Coon Rapids and St. Paul have average bacteria that are too high for aquatic recreation. Humans and pets account for the highest levels of bacteria in the Minneapolis segments of the river (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2013).

E. Coli  bacteria
remains impaired

Fish: with a side of mercury, PCBs, and PFOS

Many contaminants are not carried away, but rather sink to the bottom, stay potent in sediment, or build up in the tissue of fish. Three contaminants impact the Mississippi through Minneapolis. Mercury originated with coal-burning power plants and improper disposal of several household items. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used in a variety of products until banned in the late 1970s. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) is a chemical that was manufactured by 3M at its Cottage Grove plant from around 1950 until 2002; only fish in the portion of the Mississippi below the Ford Dam are impaired for PFOS.

Because of this contamination, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends limiting the consumption of fish from this portion of the river. For healthy adults, that means just one meal a week for most fish, and in some cases even less. The recommendations for pregnant women and children are even more limited.

Contaminants in fish:
mercury, PCBs, PFOS
remains impaired