Minnesota's Legacy

Aquifer Monitoring for Water Supply Planning

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,075,000
2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$525,000
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$600,000
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Status
In Progress
Start Date
July 2009
Activity Type
Assessment/Evaluation
Inventory
Planning
Education/Outreach/Engagement
Analysis/Interpretation
Modeling
Monitoring
Demonstration/Pilot Project
Counties Affected
Statewide
Statewide
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2019 First Special Session Ch. 2 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$2075000 the first year and $2075000 the second year are for water-supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,075,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY20 DNR staff will:
• Evaluate pumping scenarios using the updated Little Rock Creek groundwater model.
• Populate the Aquifer Properties database.
• Incorporate groundwater level data into the draft Polk/Red Lake county border aquifer sustainability monitoring plan. Develop water level thresholds as needed.
• Continue providing high level technical support for communities developing water supply plans.
• Update the statewide “changes over time in groundwater levels” trend analysis incorporating water level data collected through 2019.
• Initiate data compilation for a groundwater model in Dakota County. Coordinate model development with county and Met Council staff.
• Continue support of the GRAPs program.
• Compile existing data develop work plans and initiate construction of a groundwater model for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area.
• Install approximately 20 new monitoring wells in greater Minnesota.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017 Regular Session Ch. 91 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$1375000 the first year and $1375000 the second year are for water supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
Direct expenses
$1,080,994
Administration costs
$158,103
Number of full time equivalents funded
11.4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY19 DNR staff will:
• Incorporate monitoring data from 2014 through 2018 into the Little Rock Creek groundwater model.
• Populate the Aquifer Properties database.
• Develop a groundwater monitoring plan to address well interference and aquifer sustainability issues along the Polk/Red Lake county border.
• Continue providing technical support for communities developing water supply plans.
• Update the statewide “changes over time in groundwater levels” trend analysis.
• Continue groundwater modeling with the City of Moorhead.
• Continue providing technical support and review to the City of Rochester for groundwater modeling and water supply analysis.
• Apply the North Metro Lakes Groundwater Model in support of the Ramsey County District Court Order and water supply planning in the area.
• Initiate data compilation for a groundwater model for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area.
• Collaborate with Dakota County to develop groundwater management strategies to address contamination and sustainability concerns related to surface water ecosystems.
• Add approximately 10 new monitoring wells.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY19 DNR staff:
• Completed the groundwater availability portion of Groundwater Restoration and Protection Strategy (GRAPS) reports for three major watersheds—Hawk Creek Redeye River and the Zumbro River.
• Updated and analyzed 65 hydrographs that compare groundwater levels to reported pumping volumes and climate data within nine watersheds for GRAPS.
• Compiled 1500 files for inclusion in the Aquifer Properties database.
• Provided groundwater technical reviews of 33 water supply plans for communities throughout MN.
• Developed a draft monitoring plan for the Red Lake/Polk County area. Groundwater levels will be tracked using a combination of permittee monitoring and DNR network wells.
• Evaluated pumping scenarios using an updated groundwater model for the City of Moorhead groundwater expansion from the Buffalo Aquifer.
• Compilation of existing data and project scoping has begun for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area groundwater model.
• Completed technical report describing construction of the groundwater model for Little Rock Creek area. Preparation of input data for 2014-2018 monitoring has started.
• Continued providing technical support and review to the City of Rochester for groundwater modeling and water supply analysis.
• Conducted multiple model runs using the North & East Metro Groundwater Model in support of the Ramsey County District Court Order and to investigate potential impacts by large water appropriators outside the 5-mile radius defined by the Court.
• Groundwater staff assessed the groundwater level network needs in six counties and three rural communities. No new monitoring wells were added in FY19 (with this funding source).
• Preliminary meetings with Dakota county to define modeling objectives were held this past year. Construction of the groundwater model has been on hold pending completion of the revised Geologic Atlas and completion of other groundwater models.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017 Regular Session Ch. 91 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$1375000 the first year and $1375000 the second year are for water supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
Direct expenses
$1,405,812
Administration costs
$151,962
Number of full time equivalents funded
14.2
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY18 the DNR plans to drill 26 additional groundwater monitoring wells. Also in FY18 DNR staff will:
• Finish the Little Rock Creek groundwater model and begin using it to test various management scenarios.
• Start developing a groundwater model for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area.
• Finish developing the Aquifer Properties database and work with the MN Department of Health to enter information currently scattered across numerous state and federal agencies.
• Participate in six aquifer tests to guide permit staff who are addressing well interferences and aquifer sustainability issues near the city of Mentor.
• Continue responding to requests for technical support from communities that are developing water supply plans.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY18 DNR staff:
• Completed the groundwater availability portion of Groundwater Restoration and Protection Strategy (GRAPS) reports for five major watersheds—Cannon Missouri Lower St. Croix Watonwan and Sauk.
• Finished programming the Aquifer Properties database.
• Located and updated 1 400 well site locations in Mille Lacs Steele Cook Pennington and Dakota counties for use in county geologic atlas work by the Minnesota Geological Survey.
• Provided groundwater technical reviews of 20 water supply plans for communities throughout MN.
• Conducted eight aquifer tests in support of water supply issues including well interferences near Mentor.
• Started groundwater modeling for the City of Moorhead groundwater expansion from the Buffalo Aquifer.
• Provided technical support and review to the City of Rochester for groundwater modeling and water supply analysis.
• Continued input of historical water chemistry data (over 6 000 samples) and streamlined input of new chemistry data into the EquIS database.
• Initiated scoping for groundwater modeling in the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area;
• Completed the initial groundwater model for Little Rock Creek area.
• Completed revisions and updates for the North Metro Lakes Groundwater Model.
• No new monitoring wells were added in FY18 (with this funding source) due to limited resources and the high demand for modeling and other technical analyses.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2015 First Special Session Ch. 2 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

(e) $1375000 the first year and $1375000 the second year are for water supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
Direct expenses
$1,116,062
Administration costs
$145,513
Number of full time equivalents funded
11.3
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY17 staff will install 55 additional wells in areas of concern or to fill gaps and replace nonfunctioning wells in the long term statewide network. Staff will also continue enhancing the processing and accessibility of groundwater network data. Enhancements will include streamlining the gathering storage and online accessibility of data for required groundwater monitoring permits in the 11-county metro and outstate areas with high groundwater appropriation volumes. We will continue to provide technical support for communities developing water supply plans. We will also continue to provide training for soil and water conservation district staff in FY16.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY17 DNR staff oversaw the drilling of 51 observation wells including new wells and replacement of nonfunctioning wells. This brought the number of active groundwater monitoring locations in the network to 1 035 of which 599 are measured continuously by data loggers. Staff compiled and finalized continuous records for approximately 300 groundwater observation locations.
Also in FY17 DNR staff:
• Developed a groundwater model for Little Rock Creek incorporating information about surface water/groundwater interactions from newly completed staff analysis of data from six aquifer tests. Staff also began testing the model’s sensitivity and incorporating recommendations from an external technical advisory committee.
• Transferred all historical water chemistry data collected by the County Geologic Atlas group into the EQuiS database.
• Started developing an Aquifer Properties database.
• Created a GIS database to catalog historical well interferences. When complete the database will facilitate access to records about interference complaints technical investigations and resolutions.
• Conducted “Groundwater 101” training for several Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).
• Provided technical support on request to communities facing water supply sustainability issues including the City of Rochester and Moorhead Public Service.
• Updated the statewide “changes over time in groundwater levels” trend analysis to include an additional 45 wells (for a new total of 341 wells) over the time period of 1997-2016.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2015 First Special Session Ch. 2 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

(e) $1375000 the first year and $1375000 the second year are for water supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
Direct expenses
$1,545,948
Administration costs
$144,234
Number of full time equivalents funded
12.8
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY16 the DNR will install an additional 50 wells in priority areas of concern and continue to refine the process to compile and deliver data. We will do this by adding a web-based input system for data from cooperators (Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Cities) and upgrade the website so the public can access groundwater data. We will continue to work with our partners at the MPCA MDH MDA BWSR MGS and Metropolitan Council to make groundwater data sharable and available between agencies. We will also continue migrating chemistry data from the Geologic Atlas Program to the EQuIS database. We will continue to work with our partners at other Agencies and MN.IT to establish shared data governance standards.

We will continue developing groundwater sustainability thresholds. These thresholds will be used to identify problems that could by caused by groundwater pumping for certain lakes rivers and wetlands that depend on groundwater. When completed these thresholds will be used to help us make individual permit decisions about groundwater appropriations.

We will finish building a computer model for groundwater in the Little Rock Creek area

We will continue to provide technical support for communities developing water supply plans. For example we will work with Moorhead on its analysis of the Buffalo Aquifer and the role it plays in Moorhead’s water supply planning. We will also continue to provide training for soil and water conservation district staff in FY16.

We will conduct nine aquifer tests to provide information about regional aquifer information needs and our aquifer test database will become operational in FY16.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY16 DNR staff installed 117 wells instrumented 18 wells with available equipment and processed 196 continuous groundwater well records. Staff also completed the planned integrated data input system allowing cooperators and remotely deployed staff to enter data online. We refined the website making it easier for the public to access data and see recently collected raw data within two days of downloading from network wells. Data processing was also streamlined to provide approved and final data sooner than previous years. DNR staff continued efforts to develop a groundwater model for Little Rock Creek and involved an external technical advisory committee in the process.

Staff investigated water supply issues near the City of LaSalle related to cumulative impacts from expanded crop irrigation and reviewed cumulative pumping impacts to the Union Creek watershed. The latter effort helped guide permitting decisions and identify groundwater monitoring sites.

DNR staff participated on an interagency water data governance team which developed two proposals to improve data governance and sharing among agencies.

DNR with support from MDH MDA MPCA hosted groundwater educational workshops in four areas of the state. These workshops for Soil and Water Conservation District staff were well attended and highly regarded by the attendees.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013 Ch. 137 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$1375000 the first year and $1375000
the second year are for water supply planning
aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
Direct expenses
$1,246,904
Administration costs
$154,895
Number of full time equivalents funded
10.8
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY15 The DNR will continue enhancing its groundwater monitoring network and data management system and decision-making abilities.
-We will continue development of Standard Evaluation Procedures that will be used for the establishment of groundwater sustainability thresholds and identifying adverse impacts to groundwater-dependent surface water features.
-Observation Well Network Enhancement. The DNR will install approximately 65 new observation wells in areas of the state that are experiencing increasing water use or concerns about water levels including municipal water supplies for small communities.
-Observation Well Network Management. We will maintain or seal the current wells in the observation well network which are not currently being used due to poor performance.
-Hydrology Data Project. In FY15 chemistry data from the Geologic Atlas Program will be incorporated into the Hydrology Data Domain system to provide greater access to the data for users of the data. Data currently in paper files will be entered into databases.
-Ground Water Data Website. A map-based website will be developed to provide easy access to groundwater elevation information and other hydrology data.
-We will continue to provide technical support for communities developing water supply plans including the cities of Rochester and Moorhead and others.
-We will continue to provide technical analysis of existing information and assessments for Groundwater Management Areas (GWMA): North and East Metro GWMA Straight River GWMA and Bonanza Valley GWMA.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY15 the DNR enhanced its groundwater monitoring network and data collection network by installing 165 new groundwater level monitoring wells and equipped 203 wells with devices that record water levels every 15 minutes. We compiled 61 annual continuous water level records across the state.

We are working with our agency partners to develop statewide systems for entering managing and sharing water and climate data for Minnesota’s state and local governments that generate and use this data. With Clean Water Funds we developed a new quality assurance process for our groundwater level data and transferred it to a cooperative DNR/MPCA database and we launched a new cooperative groundwater monitoring website which provides access to all available groundwater level data from over 950 DNR- operated observation wells.

We worked to develop groundwater sustainability thresholds which will be used to identify problems that could be caused by groundwater pumping for certain lakes rivers and wetlands that depend on groundwater. We also worked with 24 communities to develop or review and approve water supply plans.

We provided training for soil and water conservation district staff across Minnesota. This training significantly increased local government’s knowledge and understanding of groundwater and highlighted the need for more resources to manage groundwater at the local level.

We conducted eight aquifer tests (focused investigations that help estimate the potential impacts from high capacity pumping from water supply wells) to learn more about regional water sustainability issues. We are also creating an interagency aquifer test database in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Health which uses aquifer tests to evaluate and establish drinking water wellhead protection areas.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013 Ch. 137 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$1375000 the first year and $1375000
the second year are for water supply planning
aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,375,000
Direct expenses
$1,149,106
Administration costs
$257,141
Number of full time equivalents funded
12.6
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY14 DNR will continue to enhance its groundwater monitoring network and data management system. The DNR will begin development of Standard Evaluation Procedures which will be used for the establishment of groundwater sustainability thresholds.
-Observation Well Network Enhancement. DNR will install approximately 65 new observation wells in the State. These new wells will be placed in both new locations as well as in existing areas to service under represented areas and to replace damaged or poorly performing wells. Some of the wells are designated as “sentinel monitoring wells” because they provide signals of when groundwater pumping is adversely affecting surface water bodies.
-Observation Well Network Assessment and Management. DNR completed the statewide assessment of observation wells and will maintain or seal the current wells in the observation well network which are not currently being used due to poor performance.
-Hydrology Data Domain Project. Scoping and initial development will be completed for the Hydrology Data Domain Project. This project will integrate and provide easy access to hydrologic data used in well appropriation decisions and permitting decision-making. Monitoring information will include groundwater elevation data groundwater contamination data surface water data (lakes streams wetlands) climatology data as well as other hydrologic data. Data will include monitoring information from DNR MPCA MDA Met Council and MDH.
-Ground Water Data Website. Development will initiated for a map-based Ground Water Data Website which will be designed to provide easy and direct access to groundwater elevation information for all DNR Observation Wells.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY14 DNR enhanced its groundwater monitoring network and data collection network by installing 40 new groundwater level monitoring wells equipped with devices that record water levels every 15 minutes. This information is used to evaluate the effect of groundwater pumping on water levels.
-The statewide observation well assessment project was completed in FY14.
-Groundwater Monitoring Network Enhancement - Completed a monitoring plan with locations for 75 new monitoring wells (outside of the 11-county metro area).
-DNR led multi-Agency efforts to conduct “synoptic surveys” to collect water levels in hundreds of domestic water supply wells monitoring wells and lakes for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area in the vicinity of White Bear Lake.
-Hydrology Data Project. Developed conceptual plan to integrate hydrologic data and provide easy access to data for analysis related to appropriation permit decisions. Monitoring information will include groundwater elevation data groundwater chemistry and contamination data surface water data (lakes streams wetlands) and various climatology data from DNR MPCA MDA Met Council and MDH.
-Provided technical support for communities developing water supply plans including the cities of Rochester and Moorhead.
-Provided technical analysis of existing information and assessments for Groundwater Management Areas (GWMAs): North and East Metro GWMA Straight River GWMA and Bonanza Valley GWMA.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011 First Special Session Ch. 6 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$1500000 the first year and $1500000 the second year are for water supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
Direct expenses
$854,617
Administration costs
$140,787
Number of full time equivalents funded
10.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY13 DNR will increase data collection in potential Groundwater Management Areas (GWMAs):
* Complete geophysical surveys in two potential GWMAs to increase understanding of aquifer characteristics.
* DNR with support of other organizations will complete synoptic measurements of groundwater levels in three potential GWMAs.
* Work on aquifer models will be initiated for two areas of concern.
* DNR will finalize reporting for statewide DNR observation well assessment.

Public Communications on Resource Management & Sustainability
* DNR will lead or participate in meetings with stakeholders and interagency staff for areas of concern where long-term sustainability of groundwater use is being evaluated.
* DNR will assess the feasibility of bringing water supply planning assistance to communities (populations of less than 1000) not previously encouraged nor required to prepare water supply plans.
* DNR will move toward designation of two or more groundwater management areas.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY13 DNR enhanced its groundwater monitoring network and data collection network by installing 65 new groundwater level monitoring wells equipped with devises which record water levels every 15 minutes. This information is used to evaluate the effect of groundwater pumping on water levels. The statewide observation well assessment project was also completed in FY13. DNR also led multi-Agency efforts to conduct “synoptic surveys ” in which water levels in hundreds of domestic water supply wells monitoring wells and lakes are measured in one day. Synoptic surveys were completed for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area and for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area. Finally DNR completed groundwater models in the Straight River and Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Areas. The models evaluated options for perimeter boundaries for the Straight River and Bonanza Valley areas. Geological cross sections needed for three-dimensional mapping was also done for portions of the Straight River and Bonanza Valley areas. DNR also participated on the technical advisory committee for the development of the Metro Model 3 a groundwater-flow model of the greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011 First Special Session Ch. 6 Art. 2 Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language

$1500000 the first year and $1500000 the second year are for water supply planning aquifer protection and monitoring activities.

2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
Direct expenses
$715,316
Administration costs
$239,944
Number of full time equivalents funded
7.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY12 DNR will participate in or lead meetings with stakeholders and interagency staff in four groundwater management areas. Staff will also:

* prepare paper files for data mining: review sort and scan 10 linear feet of hard copy files from ethanol projects and groundwater areas of interest to electronic format;

* achieve significant progress with data-mining and work planning on six of the ranked groundwater management areas; and

* assess the feasibility of bringing water supply planning assistance to communities not previously encouraged nor required to prepare water supply plans.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY12 DNR led and participated in stakeholder meetings with interagency staff cities counties and local organizations to evaluate and advance the concept of groundwater management areas (GWMA) in seven resource critical areas of the state. Based on DNR’s technical review of the groundwater/surface water resources and current and future use two areas were identified for potential designation by the Commissioner of the DNR as groundwater management areas.

DNR worked with agency partners to finalize locations for 10 new observation well nests (2 wells in each nest) in three potential groundwater management areas. Additionally DNR instrumented over 100 observation wells in geographic areas of concern with state-of-the-art data loggers for continuous water level monitoring.

To get more and better information about groundwater in three areas of concern the DNR along with many partner organizations completed an intensive effort to measure groundwater levels in over 400 wells and over 80 lake levels within a span of 9 days.

Data mining was completed for groundwater areas of concern. DNR reviewed sorted and scanned over 10 linear feet of hard copy files from ethanol projects and groundwater areas of concern to electronic format.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2009 Ch. 172 Art. 2 Sec. 5(b)
Appropriation Language

$600000 the first year and $525000 the second year are for drinking water planning and protection activities.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$525,000
Direct expenses
$687,305
Administration costs
$32,400
Number of full time equivalents funded
5.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY11 DNR will work with other agencies to complete a statewide interagency review and ranking process for areas of critical groundwater use.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY11 DNR completed a statewide interagency review and ranking process for areas of critical groundwater use and participated in the Interagency Groundwater and Drinking Water Team’s assessment of a statewide process to evaluate risks to the water table aquifer. Scientists also created an updated statewide map of shallow aquifer vulnerability.

Staff conducted meetings with interested parties and interagency staff in three potential groundwater management areas (South Washington County White Bear Lake and Little Rock Creek) and continued less formal discussions with user groups and local governmental units in two other potential groundwater management areas in Clay and Hubbard Counties.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2009 Ch. 172 Art. 2 Sec. 5(b)
Appropriation Language

$600000 the first year and $525000 the second year are for drinking water planning and protection activities.

2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$600,000
Direct expenses
$228,781
Administration costs
$13,785
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY10 DNR will complete a statewide assessment to identify areas with existing and potential water supply issues. Staff will also define the scope of work for studies and monitoring for 20 communities with existing or potential water supply issues and work with stakeholder groups on the development of aquifer management plans in two pilot areas.

Measurable Outcome(s)

In FY10 DNR worked with agency partners to assess and rank areas with potential water supply issues. The team chose 20 areas (8 non-metro and 12 metro) for trial evaluation of level of effort needed to establish a groundwater management area and collect adequate data to develop aquifer management plans and completed scoping process for the 8 non-metro areas. Staff conducted significant monitoring and held stakeholder meetings to lay the groundwork for aquifer management plans in two pilot areas: Moorhead and Bonanza Valley (Brooten-Belgrade area).

Project Overview

The DNR is working with local communities and an interagency team to define, prioritize, and establish groundwater management areas in Minnesota. Groundwater management areas will have increased data collection and monitoring that allow the state and local communities to understand water supplies, uses, limitations, and threats to natural resources that depend on groundwater. This information will support detailed aquifer protection plans that ensure equitable and sustainable groundwater and drinking water use for the future.

About the Issue

In Minnesota, growth in demand for water resources is outstripping population growth. As water use increases, planning for adequate water supply is crucial to preventing water shortages and protecting lakes, streams, and wetlands - especially sensitive groundwater dependent trout streams and fens.

Project Manager
First Name
Jay
Last Name
Frischman
Organization Name
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Street Address
500 Lafayette Road
City
Saint Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155
Phone
(651) 259-5733
Email
Jay.Frischman@state.mn.us