- Learn about the benefits and costs of improving water quality in the Mississippi Headwaters through land preservation and restoration via data, interviews, and case studies.
This report is a collaboration among McKinsey, The Nature Conservancy, and Ecolab to analyze the benefits and costs of improving water quality in the Mississippi Headwaters through land preservation and restoration.
Sources of insight and data and include:
- More than 50 studies and data sources from environmental research, state and federal reports
- More than 15 interviews with experts from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Explore Minnesota, other conservation efforts across the United States, universities, Ecolab, McKinsey, and TNC
- Six case studies of land conservation and water quality preservation across the US
- Primary geospatial analysis
- Clean water is crucial for the health of Minnesota’s economy and people. Natural lands such as forests, grasslands, and wetlands act as nature’s filtration system and are important for keeping our water clean
- However, our water quality is at risk. Pollution in our water is increasing as the natural lands in the Mississippi Headwaters convert to development, farmland, and industry increasing the pollutants entering the system and reducing the presence of natural filters
- We have already seen the negative impact of land conversion on water quality in the Minnesota River Basin and expect similar outcomes in the Mississippi Headwaters if it is not protected
- We face a choice: to protect our waters now and prevent further pollution or delay action and hope to clean them later
- If action is delayed, it will cost billions to clean the Mississippi River Headwaters
- Acting now to protect our water by preserving about 100,000 acres and restoring another 100,000 in the Mississippi Headwaters – a tiny fraction of the 13 million acres of the Headwaters – would cost $400-600 million
- Acting now retains $130 million in direct benefits such as avoided water treatment costs, retained property values and tourism revenue and jobs, plus $360 million in indirect benefits
- Protecting the Mississippi River Headwaters now avoids billions in future costs and allows us to enjoy clean drinking water and clean rivers