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


Putting Minnesota on a Clean Water Trajectory  Fourteen years ago, a group of interest and agency representatives developed consensus about how to tackle Minnesota’s impaired waters in a way that was effective, met the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, and removed a significant threat to economic development. The group produced 31 recommendations, of which an amazing 27 are either completed or in progress. From 2017-2018, Freshwater convened interest and agency representatives to pause and assess whether or not Minnesota is on a good trajectory to meet its goals for clean water. This high-level report summarizes those discussions and offers guidelines for the next ten years to the Clean Water Council and executive branch agencies.

Facets of Freshwater, a regular newsletter Freshwater produces for members and interested citizens. An electronic archive of copies since 2004 is available.

Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar, a calendar available in wall and desk format that Freshwater has published for four decades. It offers weather records, phases of the moon, times for sunrise and sunset, plus phenology data on the response of living organisms to seasonal and climatic changes. We publish free curriculum guides for elementary-school teachers who use the calendars in their science classes. The calendar is available for sale as a fundraising opportunity for nonprofit organizations.

Water is Life: Protecting A Critical Resource For Future Generations, a Freshwater report on Minnesota’s ground and surface waters, published in 2008. The report focuses on the sustainability of ground water and the pollution that contaminates many lakes and streams. The report was prepared by an advisory group, the Guardianship Council. A shorter Executive Summary of the report also is available.


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.

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 report -- the second in a series of three planned for 2016-17 -- examines the crossroads Minnesotans face with groundwater use -- we are using groundwater faster than it is being replaced -- and makes recommendations focused on proven methods to manage supplies.

The Water Underground: Reframing the local groundwater picture is targeted at public water supply managers – the public works directors, council members, and mayors of those municipalities operating water supply systems. This report -- the first in a series of three planned for 2016-17 -- tackles head on which portions of the state and metropolitan area currently have long-term water supply issues. This eliminates a major flaw of previous reports; namely, most cities hear about declining groundwater levels and assume it doesn’t apply to them.

Lower Minnesota River Fact Sheet. Increased flows on the Minnesota river yield more sediment. December 2016.

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 in order to accelerate the adoption and implementation of groundwater and drinking water protections.

Advice From the Field – Preparing for county level buffer work, In February 2016, we released our report on how local governments can prepare themselves for tackling the buffer challenge. The report consolidates discussions we had with 32 Soil and Water Conservation Districts in late 2015.  We asked districts what success would look like two years down the road, and, what their biggest concerns were at this time. The conversations helped operations with different capacities know what to do and explored ways for districts to pool efforts with each other, or their county. As we say in the report, “this is different work.”

Minnesota’s Groundwater: Is our use sustainable? A Freshwater Society special report on groundwater use, estimates of increased pumping over time, expert opinions on the sustainability of that pumping, and problems in the Department of Natural Resources’ enforcement of a law and rules requiring permits for high-capacity pumping.

Groundwater Sustainability: Towards a Common Understanding. In November 2008 and May 2009, the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center and Freshwater sponsored workshops on groundwater sustainability. Each workshop was attended by about 70 invited scientists, engineers and water planners. This report details the discussion at the two workshops, particularly the second. A separate document, "Guidance for Developing a Suitable Management Plan for Groundwater," is attached as an appendix. The Guidance is intended for water scientists, planners and managers with the responsibility for defining management areas and for making decisions regarding how much groundwater they can -- and should -- pump, and how much they should leave untouched to support ecosystems and to protect groundwater from contamination.

Surface water

Farm To Stream: Recommendations for accelerating soil and water stewardship. Agriculture plays a primary role in the quality and health of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Between 2011 and 2013, Freshwater, in partnership with the National Park Service Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, implemented the Minnesota FarmWise program. Funded by the Mosaic Co. Foundation, the Minnesota FarmWise program piloted a farmer-led approach to increasing participation in conservation farming practices. The lessons learned through the FarmWise program, and the additional research conducted during the program’s implementation, were compiled into a set of recommendations for the legislature, state agencies, local governments, USDA, and nonprofits on how to better implement voluntary agricultural conservation programs. Release date: January 2015.


Guide To Lake Protection and Management, a 27-page brochure published in cooperation with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The guide 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 a PDF of the guide.

Community Clean-Ups For Water Quality, a brochure describing a partnership between Freshwater and Friends of the Minnesota Valley to promote citizen efforts to fight phosphorus pollution by cleaning leaves and other organic debris from streets and storm sewer grates. In 2010, the Friends of the Minnesota Valley won a Governor's Award for Excellence in Pollution Prevention for the campaign.