Cooperative Groundwater Monitoring Program

The DNR obwell network collects static groundwater-level data to assess groundwater resources, determine long term trends, interpret impacts of pumping and climate, plan for water conservation, and evaluate water conflicts.

Shapefiles and metadata for the monitoring wells presented on the Cooperative Groundwater Monitoring application are available through the Minnesota Geospatial Commons. Additional data is available on request.


A water-level observation well (obwell) monitors the static water levels of an aquifer over time. Each aquifer and well is identified by the geologic record and well construction data. Most DNR observation wells are not used for pumping to avoid interference with measurements.

The wells are measured quarterly to monthly by Soil and Water Conservation Districts under contract with DNR. At any given time approximately half of the wells are actively monitored in the network of over 2,000 across the state. The DNR is working to increase the number of continuously monitored wells with hourly measurements, with the goal of addressing all active wells in the state.


  • 1906 - The oldest actively monitored well was completed.
  • 1932 - The earliest known groundwater level measurement was taken.
  • 1942 - The DNR began managing a statewide network of obwells.
  • 1947 - Monitoring became a cooperative effort with the U.S. Geological Survey and DNR.
  • 1945 to present - The longest spanning actively measured obwell.

Special Reports


  • Joy Loughry, Water Monitoring and Surveys Unit Supervisor, 651-539-2109

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