Even in the land of 10,000 lakes, water is no longer unlimited. Lakes shrink, groundwater drops, wells go dry or get contaminated. Some cities have to look harder for good municipal water or pay more to treat it. Twenty years ago these were isolated problems. But three-quarters of Minnesota’s residents get their water from aquifer-tapping wells, and today parts of the state seem to be on a path that is not sustainable.
In the Twin Cities, a tussle is growing over whether growing suburbs should shift from tapping wells to pulling water from the Mississippi River. Elsewhere, Park Rapids, Marshall and other cities have had to spend millions of dollars to respond to dropping water levels or contamination. The state has mapped "areas of concern," and an ambitious plan to test 70,000 wells is renewing questions about how much farmers should be required to do to limit nitrate contamination in groundwater.
In coming months, this Ground Level project, "Beneath the Surface," will shine a light on the pressures on Minnesota’s groundwater and how residents, businesses and officials are being asked to adapt.
Dave Peters, Ground Level editor, and Tom Weber, Daily Circuit host, discuss the impact of changes to water around Minnesota and how solutions are being approached.
February 17, 2014
A 175 percent increase in irrigation pumping over 25 years has caused the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to single out this west central Minnesota area as one of three places to focus on groundwater management.
A new effort involving just about anyone from Lino Lakes to Woodbury is about to eclipse the scattered sprinkling limits and water-saving campaigns to rescue a shrinking White Bear Lake. A first step in getting Minnesota residents, businesses and others to think differently about how they use water.
"Minnesota’s Groundwater: Is our use sustainable?"[PDF] April 2013 report by the Freshwater Society.
"Groundwater Management Program." October 2013 strategic plan draft by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
"Groundwater and the Mt. Simon Aquifer," a YouTube video primer by the Minnesota DNR on an important Twin Cities water source.
Minnesota's groundwater provinces, an explanation by the Minnesota DNR.
"Minnesota Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan," an August 2013 draft of a plan by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to deal with farm-caused nitrate contamination of groundwater.
Minnesota groundwater basics. [PDF] Minnesota Geological Survey.