Waters program

Brief history

The Division of Lands and Minerals’ Mine Permitting and Coordination unit administers the Waters program. The Waters program manages water resources as it relates to mining activities through permitting, provides technical expertise, and collects information to support and inform permitting decisions. Waters program staff work cooperatively with the Division of Ecological and Water Resources to monitor for local and regional hydrologic conditions. The Division of Ecological and Water Resources primarily monitors for hydrologic conditions across the state. Whereas, the Division of Lands and Minerals’ Waters program focuses on monitoring surface water and groundwater for proposed or permitted mining areas. The Waters program also works on several special projects including but not limited to the Canisteo Mine Pit, Hill Annex Mine Pit, and St. James Mine Pit.

 

Permitting

Minnesota Statutes direct the Department of Natural Resources to manage water resources to provide for reasonable use while ensuring long-term sustainability and natural resource protection. Management of these resources is authorized to the commissioner and may be conducted through water permitting as directed by Minnesota Statutes, chapter 103G. Minnesota Rules, chapter 6115 was adopted to direct the means by which water appropriation and public waters work permits are managed. Water management activities authorized under Minnesota Statutes and Rules include the review, issuance, or denial of water permits, and the modification, suspension, or termination of existing permits.

The Water Appropriation Permit and Public Waters Work Permit programs are administered by the Division of Ecological and Water Resources. Authority to manage water permits for mining-related activities is delegated to the Division of Lands and Minerals. These activities include ferrous, non-ferrous metallic mineral, and peat mining operations. The Division of Lands and Minerals also manages water permits for municipalities and other entities whose operations are closely related to mining activities.

Diversion or drainage of waters for mining requirements are outlined under Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.297. Additional requirements and conditions for water appropriation permits and alterations of public waters for mining are outlined under Minnesota Rules, part 6115.0720 and 6115.0280, respectively.

 

Do I need a permit?

  • A water appropriation permit is required to withdraw more than 10,000 gallons of water per day or 1 million gallons of water per year.
  • A public waters work permit is required for any activity affecting the course, current, or cross section of public waters.

Exemptions for the requirement of a water appropriation permit and public waters work permit are found at Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.271 and 103G.245, respectively.

Water permit application

Those seeking a new water appropriation or public waters work permit or an amendment of an existing permit for mining-related activities are encouraged to contact the staff below with delegated permitting authority to discuss the proposed activity prior to submitting an application or amendment request through the online Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS).

To apply for a water permit, use MPARS. Permit application fees may apply for a new permit or request for permit amendment.

 

Inspection

Examinations of permitted appropriations and associated monitoring are conducted annually, or as situations warrant, under the commissioner’s authority. These site visits also serve as an opportunity for the Division of Lands and Minerals to discuss with the permittee on-site water use, anticipated changes to water movement, and questions regarding the permitting process.

The commissioner has the authority to inspect the work during and after construction for public waters work permits.

 

Environmental monitoring

Environmental monitoring may be a requirement of water permits to evaluate for resource impacts from permitted appropriations and proposed projects. Measurement frequency and measuring method may be determined based on:

  • the quantity of water appropriated or used,
  • the source of water,
  • potential connections to other water resources,
  • the method of appropriation or using water,
  • seasonal and long-term changes in water levels, and
  • any other facts supplied to the commissioner.

 

Staff