CMWEA advertising banners used for online advertising campaign
CMWEA advertising banners used for online advertising campaign
Aquarium photobooth education and outreach display used at in-person education events
Aquarium photo booth education and outreach display used at in-person education events.
2018 CWMEA education campaign budget summary table
2018 CWMEA education campaign budget summary table
2019 CWMEA cumulative number of pledges per year
2019 CWMEA cumulative number of pledges per year

The Phase II Small MS4 General Permit requires small MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) throughout Minnesota to adopt the following minimum control measures to reduce pollution discharged to receiving waters: public education and outreach, public participation and involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site runoff control, post-construction runoff control, and pollution prevention / good housekeeping. Prior to adoption of the Phase II Small MS4 General Permit, very little public stormwater education and outreach was being conducted by communities in Central Minnesota. To help small MS4s meet public education requirements, pool resources, and create consistent public education messaging, The Central Minnesota Water Education Alliance (CMWEA) was formed in 2006.

The CMWEA is a coalition of central Minnesota cities, counties, townships, and other organizations that provide educational outreach to promote water quality stewardship. The mission of CMWEA is to develop and implement educational programs that encourage individuals in Central Minnesota to protect water resources by increasing their knowledge and encouraging simple behavior changes. Since establishment, the CMWEA has expanded to also focus on wellhead protection plan education requirements for local communities. Although one goal of the CMWEA is to help small MS4s meet baseline public education requirements, the program has served as a driver to help small MS4s develop effective strategies and programs to address other related MS4 minimum control measure requirements by creating a network of resources and dedicated members.

The CMWEA was formed in 2006 with 8 original members (City of St. Cloud, Waite Park, Sartell, and St. Joseph, Stearns County, Stearns SWCD, Sauk River Watershed District and MN Rural Water Association). The lead entities of the group were the City of St. Cloud, Stearns County and Stearns SWCD, which is still the case today. The first year of the group was used to establish partnerships, funding sources, hire an advertising and marketing consultant, and develop a mission statement and goals, and initial funding for the group came from the Upper Mississippi River Source Water Protection Project and the Stearns County Water Management Plan. In 2019, CMWEA had 27 paying members and 3 advisory members (17 MS4 permittees, 9 source water protection members). Since 2007, CMWEA has used a professional marketing and advertising company to develop creative material and to assist with planning and implementation of a public education campaign. The CMWEA uses many strategies and programs to meet education requirements, ranging from social media advertising campaigns and radio advertising, to hosted workshops, educational display booths, and television commercial contests. To fund and staff education events and programs, CMWEA relies significantly on partnerships, grants and staff time from its members to operate a cost-effective program.

Establishing consistent funding and staffing sources is an annual challenge for implementation of the CMWEA education and outreach efforts. Because the CMWEA does not have a dedicated staff to coordinate day to day tasks, the program relies on staff hour commitments from members. One effective method the CMWEA has implemented to establish a consistent revenue source is the establishment of annual membership dues. Over the years, the annual membership dues have been used to fund the core annual programs, with grants and in-kind donations used to enhance/augment the education program. Securing funding sources early in the development of the CMWEA to have a dedicated education coordinator staff/entity is one thing CMWEA members wish they would have considered in more detail earlier in development of the program.

More information regarding the history of the CMWEA, their educational programs & materials, and public education events can be found at the CMWEA website or by contacting

Project Location: Central Minnesota
Completion Date: 2006 to Present (Ongoing)
Organization: The Central Minnesota Water Education Alliance (CMWEA). A complete list of organization members can be found on the CMWEA website
Project Budget Summary (annual summary, avg. 2017-2019):

  • Membership dues collected: $37,000
  • In-kind donations collected: $8,000
  • Annual budget: $40,000
  • Member hours towards CMWEA programs/implementation: 850 hours

Quantitative Outcomes: In 2019, the CMWEA helped 17 MS4 members in Central Minnesota meet their MS4 public education and outreach requirements and implement wellhead protection plan objectives. A quantitative summary of their annual educational programs, member contributions, and annual budget can be found in CMWEA’s annual report by emailing CMWEA continued to use the Clean Water Pledge to promote clean water and how individual decisions collectively add up to healthier water for all. The Pledge was promoted at the Aquarium Photo Booth, on social media, CMWEA website and in membership publications. The cumulative number of pledges per year has continually increased each year.

This page was last edited on 8 December 2022, at 17:19.