The source water supply for the Minneapolis Water Works is the Mississippi River at Fridley. Water is pumped from just below where Interstate 694 crosses the river. After treatment and purification, the water is pumped to customers in:
- Columbia Heights
- Golden Valley
- New Hope
Mississippi River water is naturally much softer than ground water, and it is further softened during treatment at the Minneapolis Water Works treatment plant. This benefit saves water users the expense of purchasing and maintaining a home softening system. The Joint Water Commission's suburban neighbors do not use this source of water. Instead, they rely on groundwater sources that are pumped, disinfected with chlorine, and delivered to customers.
Over the years, efforts have been made to protect the Mississippi River as a reliable source of water. It drains such a large watershed of northern and central Minnesota that the effects of localized droughts are not often felt at the intake. However, the Mississippi River is vulnerable to contamination from human and natural sources. Increasing upstream uses and constant runoff from agricultural lands have diminished its quality over the years. Increasing human activity along its banks also increases the possibility of a hazardous chemical spill. The City of Minneapolis has been diligent in trying to protect its Mississippi River source. However, no backup supply is available should an accident happen.