County Geologic Atlas and South-Central Minnesota Groundwater (MN DNR)

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Recipient Type
State Government
Start Date
July 2009
End Date
June 2012
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1982 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program collects information on the geology of Minnesota to create maps and reports depicting the characteristics and pollution sensitivity of Minnesota's ground-water resources. County Geologic Atlases are used in planning and environmental protection efforts at all levels of government and by businesses to ensure sound planning, management, and protection of land and water resources. This appropriation will:

  • Support completion of geologic atlases for Todd, Carlton, McLeod, Carver, Benton and Chisago counties;
  • Initiate geologic atlases for Anoka and Wright counties;
  • Make collected data available in a digital format;
  • Investigate the recharge and physical characteristics of the Mt. Simon Aquifer - the deepest bedrock aquifer of south central Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area, which supplies all or some of the water needs of over one million Minnesotans. Work will be conducted in McLeod, Wright, Sherburne, and Isanti counties.

PART 2: MN Department of Natural Resources

Overall Project Outcome and Results

Most data collected for the Mt. Simon - Hinckley aquifer Phase 2 study were derived from 16 wells installed at 10 locations to depths of 100 to 695 feet in McLeod, Wright, Hennepin, Sherburne, Anoka, and Isanti counties. In the Phase 2 area chemical residence time indicators from the Mt. Simon aquifer indicate groundwater ages less than approximately 1,000 years in eastern Wright and Sherburne counties and northern Isanti County. These relatively young groundwater ages are consistent with water level and stratigraphic information that indicate both direct and indirect connection of surface water to the Mt. Simon- Hinckley aquifer through localized focused recharge.

This project has shown that the most critical recharge area for the Mt. Simon-Hinckley aquifer and Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area water supply includes portions of Wright, Sherburne, and Isanti counties. Protection of this region from water pollution should be a high priority for all levels of government. Continued monitoring of wells installed for this investigation will create a long term record that can be used to interpret changes in local and regional water supply due to water use or climate changes.

The County Geologic Atlas, Part B, portion of this project supported the completion of three and the initiation of six Part B atlases in the County Geologic Atlas series that the DNR prepares in collaboration with the Minnesota Geological Survey. Each Part B atlas provides groundwater maps, data describing aquifer properties and use, analytical results of groundwater chemistry sampling including age-dating samples, and interpretation of pollution sensitivity. All of these maps and data are used to meet many environmental information and protection needs, including resource protection planning, water resource management, water appropriation permitting, contamination mitigation, education, among others. The Todd, Carlton, and Benton Part B atlases were completed and the Carver, McLeod, Chisago, Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Sibley Part B atlases were initiated.

Project Results Use and Dissemination
The reports from this project have been available on the DNR website since the summer of 2012. The Mt. Simon project was presented as a poster at the Midwest Groundwater Association meeting in Minneapolis in October 2012. We are currently producing a short (15 minute) video highlighting some of the results of the project for presentation at future meetings and for general viewing on the internet. In addition, a summary of the project will be submitted to the Minnesota Groundwater Association for inclusion in the quarterly newsletter.

The well log and well construction information is currently available in the project report and the Minnesota Department of Health County Well Index ( The wells have become part of the DNR observation well network. Water level data is currently available at:

Publication of Part B atlas reports include preparation and printing of the County Geologic Atlases, Part B, and delivery of printed reports to the county; preparation and delivery of Part B materials to MGS for inclusion in a DVD version of each completed project that incorporates geographic information system (GIS) files, database files, pdfs, and additional digital products. When each atlas Part B is completed a training workshop for the county and local users is held to explain the results and how the maps, data, and other information can be used to assist local water resource programs. To reach other users and audiences program staff contributed newsletter articles and presented talks and posters at conferences. Completed digital products are posted on DNR webspace at Printed reports are available for sale through MGS Map Sales at

Project Publication:
South-Central Minnesota Groundwater Monitoring of the Mt. Simon Aquifer - Phase 2

Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2009, Chp. 143, Sec. 2, Subd. 03b2
Appropriation Language

$2,695,000 is from the trust fund for collection and interpretation of subsurface geological information and acceleration of the county geologic atlas program. $820,000 of this appropriation is to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for the geological survey to continue and to initiate the production of county geologic atlases. $1,875,000 of this appropriation is to the commissioner of natural resources to investigate the physical and recharge characteristics of the Mt. Simon aquifer. This appropriation represents a continuing effort to complete the county geologic atlases throughout the state. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2012, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.

2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Street Address
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul
Zip Code
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

Email the Agency