As we walk along its banks, it may be difficult to recognize how polluted our beautiful river is. But our entire Twin Cities stretch fails to meet federal water quality standards.

Pollutants reach our river in many ways. Fertilizer and soil leak from farm fields into ditches and streams that can connect to the river. Rain carries decomposing leaves, oil and trash from our yards and streets through storm drains to the river. And as snow melts, it brings excess road and sidewalk salt (aka chloride) to the river.

FMR's Water Program works with policymakers, researchers, farmers, fellow nonprofits and everyday metro residents (River Guardians) to address these and many other sources of pollution and protect the river's natural resources.

Advancing river-friendly policies 

FMR's Water program works to shape legislative and administrative policy to protect our waters. We spearhead efforts to restrict the use of hazardous chemicals, advocate for improvements to water protection rules, pursue funding for river-friendly programs such as the Forever Green Initiative and fight to defend the integrity of our state's bedrock environmental programs. 

Reducing agricultural pollution

Too much sediment and pollutants from fertilizer are making their way from farm fields to the Mississippi River. Much of this is due to the dominance of corn and soybeans — crops that leave much of Minnesota's rural landscape bare and prone to runoff most of the year — along with farming incentives that don't always prioritize water health. That's why we support investments in research and market development for innovative crops that keep the river cleaner and benefit farmers. 

Protecting drinking water 

About 1.1 million Minnesotans rely on the river as their drinking water source, which is why we work to reduce pollution from agricultural, storm- and wastewater, and other sources. While our geographic focus is the metro Mississippi, we work with valued partners from across the state to address drinking water contamination in agricultural areas and for downstream neighbors.

Become a River Guardian

Sign up and we'll email you when important river issues arise. We make it quick and easy to contact decision-makers. River Guardians are also invited to special social hours and other events about legislative and metro river corridor issues.

Every dollar has a ripple effect of impacts on the river.

Gifts large and small benefit the health of the Mississippi River.

Check out our beautiful annual report to see what your support makes possible.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 - 3:00pm to 11:00pm
Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis
January-February 2024
Multiple locations
Ole Olson prairie, Mississippi River, Minneapolis skyline

Celebrate 30 years of FMR!

For our 30th anniversary, our wish is for you to join us in restoring, protecting and enhancing the Mississippi River.