Cannon River Watershed Partnership is an environmental non-profit based in Northfield, MN, dedicated to engaging people in protecting and improving the water quality and natural systems of the Cannon River watershed. In order to serve the community in constructive ways, we focus on three core values: Resilience, Equity, and Engagement.
View our strategic framework.
Want to see what we did in 2018?
Meet CRWP’s Staff and Board
The Cannon River Watershed Partnership is governed by a Board of Directors and has staff who carry out our work in the watershed. To contact our staff, visit our Contact Us page.
Kristi Pursell, Executive Director
Kristi Pursell has a BA in English/ Environmental Studies from St. Olaf College and has a background in small-scale farming, environmental education, and leadership. She joined CRWP in 2015 as the Community Engagement Coordinator. In 2018 she became Executive Director and she looks forward to “making clean water happen” through innovative new and long-term CRWP projects and partnerships.
Kevin Strauss, Community Engagement Coordinator
Kevin Strauss has a B.A. in Environmental Biology and Creative Writing and an M.S. Ed. In Outdoor Education. Before working for CRWP, Kevin worked as Education Coordinator for the Zumbro Watershed Partnership, in Rochester, MN. He presents clean water education and outreach programs as well as creative problem-solving activities for CRWP.
Alan Kraus, Conservation Program Manager
Alan Kraus earned an M.S. in Agricultural Economics and a B.S. in Dairy Science and from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has 25 years of experience dairy farming in Central Wisconsin where he implemented managed grazing, pasture improvement, and no-till planting of corn and soybeans. As Chair of the Marathon County Environmental Resources Committee , Alan worked with numerous local, regional, and state organizations to advance community goals for environmental sustainability.
Board of Directors (as of May 2019)
The Cannon River Watershed Partnership is governed by a 11-17 member Board of Directors who are elected each year at our annual meeting in May. Interested in joining us? Download the CRWP board member application and job descriptions!
The Board meets six times a year – January, March, May, July, September and November typically on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 PM. Dates, times and locations are listed in the calendar of events.
- Melissa King – Chair
- Jill Trescott -Vice Chair
- Roger Stoick – Treasurer
- Brad Rademacher – Secretary
Join the Board!
If you want to do your part for clean water in the Cannon River Watershed, call or e-mail Kristi [see above] to learn about opportunities and openings on our board of directors.
*Board members are expected to attend all meetings, actively participate on a committee and be a member in good standing of CRWP.
Area residents created the Cannon River Watershed Partnership in 1990 to address river pollution and flooding issues in the Cannon River Watershed. The Cannon River Watershed is an area of about a million acres of cropland, grassland, forests and small cities in southeastern Minnesota. Prominent communities include Owatonna, Faribault, Northfield, Cannon Falls, and Red Wing.
Early in its history, CRWP worked with local and county governments to help them work together to address river problems at the “watershed” level, since rivers don’t pay attention to city or county boundaries.
In the past decade, CRWP has operated in three main areas: Community Engagement, Conservation, and Wastewater. Our Community Engagement programs educate the public about how they can take action individually, and through their elected officials to clean and protect our rivers, lakes, and drinking water supplies.
Our Conservation program works with farmers and rural landowners to help them use conservation practices that keep their soil healthy and productive while at the same time keeping our rivers and lakes cleaner.
Our wastewater program works with small communities to help them plan and install upgraded community septic systems to reduce the pollution from older or failing septic systems.
CRWP also sponsors or takes part in several annual community events, including the Cannon River Watershed-Wide CleanUP (third Saturday in September) at 10 locations in the watershed, the Downstream Environmental Film Festival (February), Northfield Earth Day (April), and the Cannon River Art & Water Festival (May). Watch the events page for more details about these upcoming events.
Community-Building in Cities and Towns
CRWP believes it is important for community members to have opportunities to enjoy, connect with and care for our water. As such we offer a variety of events for people in our watershed to do just that through the following:
Downstream Environmental Film Festival
Rain Garden Workshops
We teach families how to reduce stormwater pollution and conserve water – as well as beautify your property and provide habitat for wildlife!
Elementary School Students in Northfield are invited each Spring to submit posters with the theme “Be the Solution to Stormwater Pollution!” Poster Contest winners are displayed on our website as well as in Northfield’s City Hall. Get in touch with Kevin@crwp.net to participate next Spring!
“Do Not Dump – Drains to River” stenciled on storm drains across the watershed raise awareness about stormwater pollution! Stenciling benefits both the volunteers who participate and those that notice the wording throughout the year. Contact Kevin@crwp.net to reserve stenciling supplies!
Our annual cleanup engages people of all ages across the watershed in a community day of service. Local residents get up close and personal with the water in their area, pulling trash and debris from the rivers and lakes. Volunteers leave with a sense of accomplishment having done something tangible to improve water quality.
Helping Communities With Wastewater
Improving our Community’s Impact on the Watershed
Pollution from untreated sewage and wastewater is a significant problem in the Cannon River watershed and throughout Southeast Minnesota. There are many small homes and small communities that still discharge untreated sewage directly into our waterways!? That’s where CRWP comes in; we assist community members to explore options, pursue funding, navigate local and state rules, and we offer low interest loans to help keep projects moving forward.
The Southeast Minnesota Wastewater Initiative
CRWP’s award winning Southeast Minnesota Wastewater Initiative program is a regional effort throughout Southeast Minnesota to assist small communities in improving their sewage treatment. The Wastewater Initiative is a partnership between CRWP, Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Since 2002, the Initiative has helped 31 small communities upgrade their sewer systems, eliminating 454,090 gallons of untreated sewage per day (more than 165 million gallons per year!) from entering the lakes, streams, and rivers of Southeast Minnesota.
Bush Prize Video Highlighting CRWP’s Work:
Map of SE MN Wastewater Initiative Community Projects
Working with Farmers and Landowners
Agriculture is the major land use in the Cannon River watershed. It plays an important role in our local economy and also in determining the health of our lakes, rivers, and streams through its impact on the environment.
CRWP’s agriculture program has two main focuses:
- Improving soil health and water conservation through increasing the use of cover crops
- Improving the health of high priority lakes and streams through targeted conservation practices
CRWP’s agriculture program’s work is carried out in partnership with the six Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and six counties (Dakota, Le Sueur, Goodhue, Rice, Steele, and Waseca) that have land in the Cannon River watershed.
Encouraging Use of Cover Crops
We work to improve soil health on agricultural fields across the entire Cannon River watershed with a current focus on increasing the use of cover crops.
Creating Healthier Streams and Lakes
We work to improve the health of high priority streams and lakes by working with farmers, landowners, and local government units to implement targeted conservation practices.
For example, we have been working to improve Rice Creek, a valuable habitat for native brook trout, though a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi Basin.