Minnesota River Basin Ag-Urban Partnership Forum

In November 2019, an interagency partnership invited a diverse group of Minnesota River stakeholders to brainstorm together about alternative paths to accelerate the pace of water clean-up. The goal was to bring together agricultural and urban problem solvers to hear ideas and brainstorm about potential next steps. The primary question discussed was: How can we work together differently to strengthen partnerships to achieve a healthier Minnesota River?

Over 200 people attended the meeting from across the Minnesota River Basin representing a broad cross section of constituents. Panelists discussed urban and agricultural challenges and opportunities. Each panel was followed by cross-sector discussion in small groups where participants reflected upon what kind of pilot or program could advance ag-urban partnerships.

The document below summarizes the “group think" results and the collective wisdom for next steps. Thank you to everyone that participated in the meeting and provided input and advice. Participant feedback will be used as a foundation to shape next steps for a potential agricultural-urban partnership or pilot.

Minnesota River Basin: Ag-Urban Partnership Forum Participant Feedback (2.7 mb pdf)



People from across the Minnesota River Basin were invited to come together to have a conversation about catalyzing water quality improvement in the Minnesota River through the use of agricultural-urban partnerships. Recent studies show the Minnesota River continues to suffer from many problems.  A promising route to accelerate the pace of improvement is to develop an urban and agricultural partnership or pilot.


What:   Minnesota River Basin Ag-Urban Partnership Forum

When:  Monday, November 18, 2019; 1 – 4 pm

Where: Mankato Civic Center, Banquet Hall, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato, MN 56001


Desired meeting outcomes:

  • Come away with a shared understanding about the challenges and opportunities that cities and agricultural producers are facing related to water quality improvements;
  • Learn about existing and potential innovative solutions; and
  • Share your input and advice about how to collaborate across sectors to move an initiative forward that will maximize public investment in water quality.


  • The afternoon started with welcome addresses from both the MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishhop and MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen followed by members of the state legislature Senator Nick Frentz and Representative Jeff Brand. They were followed by a brief overview of Minnesota River water quality challenges by Kimberly Musser. Governor Walz’ complex schedule did not permit him to join us in person but we have committed to communicating the outcomes of the meeting with his team.
  • A panel discussion of large and small cities offered insights about ongoing infrastructure challenges, successful approaches, and new strategies for multi-benefit water quality projects. The panel included representatives from City of Marshall, the City of St. Peter, and the City of Mankato.
  • A panel discussion with diverse farmer perspectives was facilitated by Steve Peterson, Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification program (MAWQCP) board member and retired General Mills Director of Sustainability. He also provided an overview of the MAWQC Program.
  • Attendees had the opportunity to learn about innovative agricultural-urban case studies, discuss ideas, and provide input in a small group setting.

KEYC - City officials and farmers come together to talk about water quality

Mankato Free Press - River clean up aims to bridge urban-rural divide



If you have questions, please contact Kimberly Musser at Kimberly.musser@mnsu.edu or 507-389-5492
Water Resources Center, Minnesota State University, Mankato

The meeting is being organized through a partnership among the Water Resources Center, Minnesota State University, Mankato, City of Mankato, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture