A cooperative study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Metropolitan Council, and the Minnesota Department of Health to assess groundwater and surface-water interactions in lakes in the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area (TCMA), including White Bear Lake. An important product of the study was the creation of a groundwater-flow model focused on the northeast TCMA. The groundwater flow model is available for future use to assess the effects of groundwater withdrawals on lake levels as well as to describe other groundwater and surface-water interactions.
The State Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Clean Water Fund appropriation identified the northeast metro as an area where potential solutions are needed to address emerging water supply issues. Three projects are underway to identify the advantages and disadvantages of combining water supply systems, using new water supply sources such as treated water from Saint Paul Regional Water Services or raw water from the Mississippi or St. Croix rivers, and optimizing groundwater pumping to protect water levels in White Bear Lake and other lakes across the northeast metro.
The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with HDR Engineering, Inc. consultants, will evaluate a variety of approaches to develop sustainable water supplies across the metro area. Subregional study areas are being selected where multiple communities face potential problems with the long-term sustainability of current water supplies, and where community stakeholders have expressed interest in learning more about sustainable water supply options.
As the Metropolitan Council updated the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Master Water Supply Plan, stakeholders asked the Council to consider the sustainable limits of the region’s water sources. The Council’s most important analytical tool is a regional groundwater flow model (Metro Model 3), which can be used to quantify the long-term regional impacts caused by hundreds of independent groundwater appropriations.
The Metropolitan Council and City of Saint Paul cooperated on a rainwater harvesting and reuse system in downtown Saint Paul. Rainwater from the northern half (2 acres) of the roof at the new Metro Transit Green Line Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) is captured using a modified version of the existing OMF rainwater collection system. The existing collection system was re-designed to convey rainwater to the new Lowertown Ballpark, home of the Saint Paul Saints, where uses include ball field irrigation and toilet flushing.
State law charges the Metropolitan Council (Council) with developing and maintaining a base of technical information needed for sound water supply decisions (Minnesota Statutes 473.1565). The Council’s primary tool to provide this information is the Metro Model 2, a regional groundwater model capable of predicting the impacts of planned water demand on aquifers and connected lakes and streams. The Metro Model 2 is a modern and comprehensive groundwater model of the Twin Cities area, but it is currently out-of-date.
The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with CDM Smith consultants, undertook a project to collect and disseminate data regarding water costs and conservation programs in the seven-county metropolitan area, including:
• Evaluating all water rate structures of the communities in the seven-county metro area. The information on rates by community is correlated with community per capita values, peaking ratios, and other water use characteristics.
• Evaluating all water conservation programs in the communities in the seven-county metro area.