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”

Make a difference: Donate

Yes, I would like to support the

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:

Upcoming Events & Meetings

Nov 14, 2019

Please Sign the Petition

Water Storage Inititaitve Petition

Oct 08, 2019

Water Storage Initiative

Water Storage Legislation



Dear Potential Partner, Cooperator, Supporter:                                             


Water Storage Bill
The Minnesota River Congress is spearheading an initiative to secure significant funding by requesting a bill in the state legislature that would create a realistically adequate pool of money targeted specifically for surface water storage.  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 and landowners.  We plan to utilize successful processes and messaging previously used to secure the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) #1.  That initiative was successful due to significant public and organizational support back in the late 1990’s.  One different tactic 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 are describing what we envision the program or initiative could look like and how it might work and are seeking additional input how to refine and improve the way we have it laid out (See first draft of bill).


Scientific Background
Extensive scientific data collected over the course of decades shows clearly that we need to put more water storage on the landscape.  Scientific evidence is mounting that additional water storage can protect infrastructure and improve water quality.  Diverse water storage practices such as replacing historically drained lakes and wetlands and promoting 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
We have obtained feedback and support from Area 6 and Area 5 SWCD Supervisors and staff. Area 6 members (11 SWCD’s in the middle part of the Minnesota River Basin) have discussed this issue during three meetings and have passed a resolution in principle.  We also met with Area 5 and will be going through some of the same endorsement process.  In these meetings, we have emphasized that surface water storage has come to the forefront in all our related meetings and discussions with other groups including those in the agricultural community.  Bearing this in mind, we have used and will be using the following to communicate the initiative.   “In the interest of not wanting to waste your time, are you comfortable with, and agree that this is a program you would look forward to implementing.  And do you feel that it is a public natural resource priority?”  So far it has been a resounding yes from those various implementers.  We are scheduling meetings with the other affected SWCD district areas and key individuals as well.  Watershed District support on a regional and State-wide basis is also a part of this process and we have already received endorsement and support from the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District.


Legislative Progress
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 will seek sign on from members who support funding for water storage.  Once the bill is in its first draft form, we will introduce the initiative to the Governor and ask for his endorsement, support and help in raising awareness among the public.  After the bill is in its final form, we will shepherd it through the process to final approval.   


Next Steps
We will be meeting with federal level Minnesota legislators to seek federal support and matching dollars. We will seek private foundation funding for water storage. We will investigate the potential for Legacy Amendment support. We need to raise awareness with the general public about this issue now by supporting additional exposure in major and small media markets. 


Ways You Can Help

Provide Feedback – We want to hear from you to help us shape the bill.

Endorsement Letter - We are reaching out to organizations who already participate in the Minnesota River Congress, to get support letters or resolutions (either with groups or individually).  Groups initially targeted include but are not limited to IWLA, LPLA, CURE, MEP, FMV, CCMR, LSP, SFA, DU, PF, and farm organizations or commodity related groups etc. We have created a template endorsement letter that can be edited to fit whatever entity would be offering its endorsement.  We will also seek endorsement letters from other area SWCD’s, Watershed Districts, and all other water related entities able to do so. Additionally, we will be creating a template resolution which can be plugged into current letters of endorsement.


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 $1,000 from each identified potential supporter, 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.  Please send us what you can, 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).  A basin wide 501 c 3 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 extremely 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. 


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

Nov 21, 2019

All are welcome to attend admission is free

13th Minnesota River Congress full session

The next full Minnesota River Congress meeting will be held in Mankato Minnesota at the Kato Ballroom.  Doors open at 6:30 PM for networking opportunities on Thursday November 21st.  The focus of the meeting will be strategic action planning regarding advocating for water storage on our landscape as well as other Minnesota River Congress business.  An agenda and flyer will be published shortly and sent directly by email to all previous participants.   All are welcome to attend and admission is free and open to the public. 

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