Groundwater Management

Groundwater Management Areas

Groundwater Thresholds Project

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DNR Presentation

January 15, 2016

Minnesota has abundant groundwater resources, but they are not unlimited.

The Groundwater Thresholds Project examines the effects of groundwater use on streams, lakes, and wetlands.

The project report includes recommendations for statutory definitions, as well as recommendations for thresholds for negative impacts to surface waters from groundwater use.

Report: Definitions and Thresholds for Negative Impacts to Surface Waters PDF

Report Conclusions

  1. Minnesota is in the "urgency room" not the "emergency room" in terms of water use management.
  2. The state’s water management policies, statutes, and rules are strong and conceptually sound. However, the state’s water management statutes could be improved by clarifying terminology and better recognizing the interconnected nature of surface water and groundwater.
  3. There is a strong scientific basis for maintaining the natural dynamic patterns of surface water bodies by establishing protected flows for individual streams, protection elevations for individual basins, and target hydrographs for wetlands.
  4. Over the next five years, the DNR intends to set protected flows, protection elevations, and target hydrographs for water bodies in places where demand for water may be exceeding sustainable supplies. The changes to statute recommended in this report would help support that work.

Report Recommendations

Project Resources

Meeting Highlights

A stakeholder advisory group provided input on the project and report. Advisory group members came from a range of organizations, including agricultural interests, environmental interests, businesses, community water suppliers and local government organizations. Technical teams were created to explore details related to streams, lakes and wetlands.

Meeting Presentations

Presentations available as PDFs. PDF


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