LINKING Water storage

Keeping Water and Soil on the Landscape


To help rural watersheds meet water quality standards, this project targets conservation efforts with a balance of practices that keep soil in place, temporarily store water and address near channel sources. Water storage was identified by Minnesota’s Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan as an effective way to reduce pollutants, along with reducing peak runoff water flow and rates. Credit calculators were developed and calibrated using new and existing water storage projects. The calculators can quantify individual projects and the impact on large-scale watershed goals in volume and rate of storage, which can be used to better inform targeting decisions at the state and local levels.

Developing Water Storage Measures

Developing Water Storage Measures

In order to establish water storage benefit measures we need well-defined goals, and should consider the following when creating standards:

  • The size, linear extent, and upstream flows (rate and volume) contributions to the issue.

  • Available downstream monitoring stations and long term records

  • Appropriate watershed-scale for managing water for the desired outcomes

Three water storage calculators were developed and vetted using an Excel-based workbook to measure the watershed-scale results associated with best management practices (BMPs) that increase infiltration and/or evapotranspiration:

Increased Soil Organic Matter, Vegetative Cover Practices, Surface Impoundments


Water Storage Benefits of Increased Soil Organic Matters Calculator

Vegetative practices water storage benefits calculator

Surface impoundments water storage benefits calculator

Through the calculators, natural resource professionals are able to begin creating standards for quantifying water storage benefits for the following BMPs.

  • Change in Crop Rotation

  • CRP

  • Cover Crops

  • Range Management

  • Hedgerow Planting

  • Riparian Herbaceous Cover

  • Vegetated Buffer

  • Conservation Cover

  • Contour Buffer Strips

  • Critical Area Planting

  • High Residue Tillage

  • Residue and Tillage Management

  • Strip Cropping

  • Conservation Crop Rotation

  • Contour Strip Cropping

  • Field Border

  • Prescribed Grazing

  • Riparian Forest Buffer

  • Tree/Shrub Establishment

  • Wetland (Creation)

  • Wetland (Restoration)


  • Urban Stormwater Impoundment (Retention Basin)

  • Drainage Water Management

Water Storage Learning Group

Additionally, a "Water Storage Learning Group" was formed comprised of landowners and natural resource professionals from around the state and  met semi-annually for three years. Participants engaged in thoughtful discussions on the theories and applied science used to quantify water storage benefits in agricultural landscapes in order to develop a conservative estimation process for evaluating various agricultural BMPs benefits to dampening peak flow during rain events.

  • Dan Reinartz, MN DNR

  • Al Kean, BWSR

  • John Nieber, UMN

  • Chris Lenhart, UMN

  • Erik Smith, USGS

  • Rob Sip, MDA

  • Heidi Peterson, MDA

  • Gregg Eggers, MN DNR

  • Chuck Brandel, ISG

  • Brian Nyborg, MN DNR

  • Mark Dittrich, MDA

  • Rick Moore, MN DNR

  • Gary Sands, UMN

  • David Mulla, UMN

  • Eric Mohring, BWSR

  • Jeff Strock, UMN

  • Ryan Jones, South-Central TSA Engineer

  • Bruce Wilson, UMN

  • Scott Bohling, MN DNR

  • Mark Pearson, NRCS

  • Jason Beckler, BWSR

  • Bruce Wilson, UMN

  • Daniel Girolamo, MN DNR


The development and piloting of these calculators is in partnership with:

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