Freshwater regularly publishes information on water, conservation, and threats to water quality and sustainability.


Putting Minnesota on a Clean Water Trajectory, a summary of discussions among interest and agency representatives, convened by Freshwater, to assess Minnesota's progress on meeting its clean water goals and offer guidelines for the next ten years to the Clean Water Council and executive branch agencies. Download.

Water is Life: Protecting A Critical Resource For Future Generations, a Freshwater report on Minnesota’s ground and surface waters that focuses on the sustainability of ground water and the pollution that contaminates many lakes and streams. Download.

Inspiring Action for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control offers a new approach for water resource protection, informed by systems thinking and a model of community capacity. Drawing on decades of engagement in conservation management and years of applied research on conservation behavior, this manual’s guiding principles for inspiring conservation action are backed by the latest social science and have been field-tested in Minnesota. Download.


Banking Groundwater: Managed Aquifer Recharge addresses the issue of the more than 75% of Minnesotans who rely on groundwater and may find it in short supply in the face of population, land-use, and climate change. Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is a technological approach to treat and inject clean water into an aquifer for temporary storage. This study examined four different kinds of aquifers across Minnesota with unique pressures to determine their suitability for ASR. Read an executive summary or the full report here.

The Water Underground: Implications for Agriculture and Opportunities for Change covers sustainable use of groundwater through an agricultural lens. This third and final report in The Water Underground series makes recommendations for groundwater quantity and quality to manage shared resources. Download.

The Water Underground: Stretching Supplies focuses on three approaches to building groundwater resilience by stretching local supplies: reducing use, reusing water before discarding it, and recharging supplies. This second report in The Water Underground series makes recommendations focused on proven methods to manage supplies. Download.

The Water Underground: Reframing the Local Groundwater Picture is targeted at public water supply managers. The first in Freshwater's The Water Underground series, this report tackles head on which portions of the state and metropolitan area currently have long-term water supply issues. Download.

Protecting groundwater-sourced drinking water: An assessment of the needs and barriers faced by local water management professionals, a study done by Freshwater for the Minnesota Department of Health that looks at how state-level agencies can best match resources with local needs to implement groundwater and drinking water protections. Download.

Minnesota’s Groundwater: Is our use sustainable?, a Freshwater special report on groundwater use, estimates of increased pumping over time, expert opinions on the sustainability of that pumping, and problems in agency enforcement of requirement. Download.

Groundwater Sustainability: Towards a Common Understanding, a report that details discussions at two workshops, aimed at helping water scientists, planners and managers make decisions regarding how much groundwater they can — and should — pump. Download.

The state of Minnesota’s groundwater, a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency analysis of groundwater monitoring that shows the quality of groundwater throughout the state and threats to the water that 75% of Minnesotans use for drinking. Visit the site.

surface water

Hennepin County Interactive Landslide Map and Hazard Atlas: The Twin Cities has experienced an increase in landslide activity over the past decade. This interactive map of landslides and atlas report can help guide landslide hazard avoidance, mitigation efforts, and emergency response planning.

Sediment Accumulation in the Floodplain of Lower Minnesota River Watershed provides a direct assessment of sediment accumulation in the floodplain of Lower Minnesota River Watershed to better document how sedimentation in this reach has changed as a result of changes in flow in the post-settlement period. Download.

Farm To Stream: Recommendations for accelerating soil and water stewardship, a report on lessons learned from the Minnesota FarmWise program, which piloted a farmer-led approach to increasing participation in conservation farming practices. Download.

Lower Minnesota River Fact Sheet. Increased flows on the Minnesota river yield more sediment. Download.

Advice From the Field: Preparing for county level buffer work, a report on how local governments can prepare themselves for tackling the buffer challenge, based on discussions with 32 Soil and Water Conservation districts. Download.


Guide To Lake Protection and Management, a guide published by Freshwater and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that includes information on watersheds, the chemistry of lakes, exotic species, development of a lake management plan, and best management practices for preserving water quality. Download.

Community Clean-Ups For Water Quality, a guide for how citizens can organize to fight phosphorus pollution by cleaning leaves and other organic debris from streets and storm sewer grates, developed by Freshwater and Friends of the Minnesota Valley. Download.

water availability and use

Water Reuse Workshop Proceedings Report, a report from Freshwater and Capitol Region Watershed District that summarizes the presentations and recommendations from a Water Reuse Workshop with 120 professionals from all sectors involved with reuse to discuss barriers and identify solutions. Download.

Water use in Minnesota, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website that includes data analysis and a link to a spreadsheet showing permitted water use on a well-by-well basis. Visit the site.

Draft Groundwater Management Plan, a Minnesota DNR plan that calls for major changes in the way the agency regulates and manages groundwater use, including better enforcement of existing rules. Download.

Evaluation of Groundwater and Surface-Water Interaction: Guidance for Resource Assessment, a Metropolitan Council report, prepared by Barr Engineering, describing what it called the “nearly insurmountable challenge” of protecting lakes, streams, and wetlands from damage caused by groundwater pumping. Download.

Groundwater Sustainability: Towards a Common Understanding, a white paper report on two groundwater sustainability workshops sponsored by the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center and Freshwater. Download.

water quality

Nitrogen in Minnesota Surface Waters, a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report on the estimated amount of nitrogen that flows into Minnesota surface waters each year. The report looks at sources, flow patterns, and trends. Read the executive summary. Download.

Minnesota Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency proposal to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus, primarily from agriculture, that flow into Minnesota streams and then down the Mississippi River and the Red River to the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Winnipeg. Read executive summary. Download.

State of the River Report: Water Quality and River Health in the Metro Mississippi River, a report by the Friends of the Mississippi River and the National Park Service documenting significant improvements, over time, in the Mississippi in the Twin Cities. The report also points out continuing and emerging threats to the river. Download.

Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals of Concern in Rivers: Occurrence and Biological Effects, a report on Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's extensive study of Minnesota’s rivers and streams that shows several commonly used pharmaceuticals and other commercial chemicals are present in most of the state’s flowing waters. Download.

Metals and other trace elements, a U.S. Geological Survey website that covers where and how trace elements make their way into our Nation's surface water and groundwater. Visit the site.

water and agriculture

Minnesota Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan, a draft revision by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture of 20-year-old guidelines for nitrogen fertilizer use. The plan is aimed at mitigating and reducing nitrate contamination of groundwater. Download.

Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota, an Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT) report that highlights steps taken by state agencies since the previous ICAT report in 2013, to adapt to a changing climate, reduce risks and impacts, and increase the resilience of our communities. Download.