The Minnesota River Congress is a citizen-led group focusing on the natural resource and economic health of the Minnesota River Basin.

Mission: “To promote citizen participation from all communities of interest and take cooperative action to protect, conserve and improve the Minnesota River System”

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Minnesota River Congress 'Mission'. 


Contact:     Scott Sparlin

The McKnight Foundation has been a primary funder of the Minnesota River Congress. Thank you for your past support.  For other support click on "Participating Entities and Organizations"  on top of page

The Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River serves as fiscal host for the Minnesota River Congress:


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Minnesota Confluence2
Minnesota Confluence2

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"Minnesota River partners seek to achieve more naturally-functioning streams in the highly-engineered landscape of the Minnesota River Basin 
See News Release in Gallery  7/20/20 

Upcoming Events & Meetings


                       Seeking Support.

Dear Potential Partner, Cooperator, Supporter:                                             

                       Water Storage Bill
The Minnesota River Congress is spearheading a public initiative to secure significant funding by requesting a bill in the Minnesota state legislature that would create a realistically adequate pool of money targeted specifically for water storage in all forms of the state accepted definition of the term.  This is a voluntary initiative.


The funding will target the Minnesota River Basin and potentially other Minnesota basins where applicable.  Funds will be directed for implementation to Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Watershed Districts, all local units of government including Native American as well as landowners.  We plan to utilize successful processes and messaging previously used to secure the first Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program CREP 1.  That extraordinarily successful initiative was due to the broad backing of the public which also included a large diversity of organizational support back in the late 1990s.  One different approach we are using this time is to seek committed funds for the initiative at the state level prior to approaching the applicable federal entities.   


We have described what some of the programs major components for consideration should be based on 3 years and 25 meetings worth of input gathered from implementers, landowners and other key professional land management entities and individuals from the greater Minnesota River Basin.  We are always seeking additional input on how to refine or improve what has been recommended to us.


Scientific Background
Extensive scientific data collected over decades shows clearly that we need to have more water storage capabilities on the landscape.  Additional water storage will protect infrastructure and improve water quality.  Diverse water storage practices, such as replacing historically drained lakes and wetlands and increasing soil health, will all help to achieve this goal. The climatic trend and future prediction of increased rainfalls in short periods of time will only exacerbate the issue. 


We are using the Collaborative for Sediment Source Reduction (CSSR) and Management Options Simulation Model (MOSM) study recommendations in conjunction with the rich datasets available through state agency monitoring, assessment and conservation targeting (WRAPS, TMDLS, 1W1P) to support the case for the need for more water storage. We will enlist researchers at state agencies and elsewhere who have completed studies to help provide data and documentation (e.g., Patrick Belmont, Karen Gran, Chris Lenhart, Peter Wilcock and numerous others).

Obtaining Local Feedback and Support
Water Storage Initiative signed secured endorsements/resolutions and cooperators list as of 3-3-21.


City of Henderson (signed endorsement)

City of Granite Falls (signed endorsement and resolution)

City of Eden Prairie (signed resolution)

City of Arlington (signed endorsement)

City of Amboy (signed resolution)

City of New Ulm (signed resolution)

City of Olivia (signed endorsement)

City of Mankato (signed resolution)

City of Nicollet (signed endorsement and resolution)

City of Redwood Falls (signed resolution)

City of Springfield (signed resolution and endorsement)

City of Winthrop (signed resolution and endorsement)

City of St. Peter (signed endorsement)

City of LeSueur 

Lower Minnesota River Watershed District (resolution passed and signed)

Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts (resolution passed)

Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance (endorsement and resolution)

Brown County SWCD (signed endorsement)

Blue Earth County SWCD (signed endorsement)

Martin County SWCD (signed endorsement)

Faribault County SWCD (signed resolution)

Cottonwood County SWCD (signed endorsement)

McCloud County SWCD (verbal will endorse)

Nicollet Conservation Club (endorsement)

MASWCD (relative resolution)

Friends of Pool 2 (signed endorsement)

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (signed endorsement)

Crystal Waters Project (signed endorsement)

Minnesota River Congress (signed endorsement)

New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen (signed endorsement)

Rural Advantage  (signed endorsement)

The Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River (signed endorsement and resolution)

Redwood Country Farmers Union (resolution) (State Pending)

Friends of the Minnesota Valley (signed endorsement)

Izaak Walton League MN Valley Chapter (signed resolution)

Izaak Walton League MN Gopher State Chapter (signed resolution)

Clean Up the River Environment-CURE (signed endorsement)

Area 6 SWCD (11 Counties) (in principle)

Area 5 SWCD (10 Counties) (in principle)

Anglers for Habitat (signed endorsement)

Minnesota Conservation Federation (signed endorsement)

Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance (signed endorsement)

The Blue Earth Project (signed endorsement)



Legislative Progress and Current Status
We have met in person and secured legislative authors to work with us in the State House and Senate.  We are soliciting other House and Senate members to gain insight and input during the creation of the legislation.  We are seeking additional sign-on from members who support funding for water storage.  Three versions of the bill have been introduced in the Minnesota Senate S.F. 81, S.F. 1037, and S.F. 261.  House companion bills are H.F. 518, H.F. 932, and H.F 731.  We have testified and will be testifying in favor of the bills this session as we monitor the progress to potential passage in an omnibus bill.  The Governor is in favor of creating a state program and has included it in his budget for the next two years.     


Next Steps
We plan to meet with federal level Minnesota legislators to seek support and matching dollars. We will be seeking private foundation funding for water storage as well. We will also investigate the potential for Legacy Amendment support. We are continuing to raise awareness with the public about this issue and garner additional exposure in major and small media markets of all type.


 Ways You Can Help

Endorsement Letter - We are reaching out to organizations who already participate in the Minnesota River Congress to get endorsement letters or resolutions from both groups and individuals.  Groups which are initially being targeted include but are not limited to, main stem and tributary cities and counties, conservation organizations, sportsmen and women’s organizations, farm organizations as well as commodity-related groups.  We have already secured substantial support listed in this document.  For your convenience have created a template endorsement letter that can be edited to fit whatever entity or individual is offering endorsement.   Additionally, we have created a template resolution which can accompany endorsement letters.


Provide Funds - We need matching funds.  We currently have matching support from several organizations and are reaching out to you for help in any way you can.  If we can secure $500 to $1000 from potential organizational supporters, we can obtain all the matching funds available to us.  We know full well that many are not able to support us at that level, in that instance consider sending us what you can, no dollar amount is too small.  Individuals should consider any level of donation.  Every dollar is critical, and we will carefully utilize your commitment no matter the size.   


Our fiscal agent for this initiative is the Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River, (CCMR), CCMR is a basin-wide 501c3 federal tax-exempt organization.  Donations should be directed to CCMR at P.O. Box 488, New Ulm, MN 56073.  Donations can also be made electronically at   or contact the Coordinator/Facilitator at


We are passionate about this issue and will not be discouraged in our efforts. Hundreds of individuals representing over 60 entities have participated in The Minnesota River Congress sessions to date.  The list of endorsements and resolutions are growing daily, together we will succeed.


For More Information
Contact Scott Sparlin, Coordinator/Facilitator, Minnesota River Congress   (507 276 2280)

Stay tuned, we will be meeting in Henderson

We are working and focused on our Water Storage Initiative. 

             ***For Immediate Release***

Legislation to Create Water Storage Program Passes Legislature Governor Walz signs bill in effect July 1st 2021.  Next steps soon.  We need our National partners to help us.  We will begin strategies to assist development next meeting.