Groundwater Model for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area

The DNR contracted with a nationally recognized expert in groundwater modeling, S.S. Papadopulos and Associates, Inc., to develop a new groundwater model for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area.

Model Analysis and Revisions

The revised model improves on and updates the transient version of the Northeast Metro Lakes Groundwater-flow model that was developed in 2017.

Consultant's Report

Key Information about the New Model

  • The new model builds off the efforts of the Metropolitan Council and the U.S. Geological Survey over the past several years. We took the U.S. Geological Survey's steady state model and built a transient model that provides the more precise analytical tool needed to manage groundwater use in the North and East metro.
  • The need for a transient model was identified in the 2015 North and East Groundwater Management Area Plan.
  • The new model will help us better understand how pumping affects aquifers and lake levels within the North and East Groundwater Management Area, including White Bear Lake.
  • We will be able to quantify the individual and cumulative effect that pumping wells have on lake levels.
  • We can use the model to determine what effects "no pumping" or "reduced pumping" would have on lake levels.
  • Combining model results with information about the ecological and recreational impacts of changes in lake levels will allow us, for the first time, to determine with reasonable certainty whether changes to established groundwater appropriations are warranted.
  • With this new tool, the DNR will be able to work more effectively with local communities, businesses and residents to make carefully targeted, well-informed modifications to water use if needed to ensure sustainable use of groundwater.

Next Steps

As we have suggested during development of the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area plan groundwater resources in the area may become oversubscribed in the future. Now is the time for the DNR to work with communities to make science-based plans to ensure a sustainable water future.

The new groundwater model will be an important tool in these efforts. We will use it to evaluate various options and inform appropriate courses of action. For the first time, we will be able to predict with reasonable certainty the effect of any groundwater appropriation changes to lake levels and the underlying aquifers. This knowledge is essential as we work collaboratively to ensure communities have sufficient water to meet their needs while also protecting our surface and groundwater resources.

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