Working with the Metropolitan Council, the University of Minnesota - Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is investigating the opportunity for water conservation by private industrial water users across the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Private industrial water users are defined as industries that use private wells for their water supply. This work is determining factors that encourage or create barriers for implementation of identified industrial water conservation opportunities.
On behalf of the Metropolitan Council, Environmental Financial Group Inc. generated a matrix of water conservation programs with detailed information about the costs and benefits of the programs. Tools were also developed to allow users to calculate potential water savings, estimate program implementation costs, and test the effects of various water conservation programs and rate structures.
On behalf of the Metropolitan Council, Barr Engineering Company developed maps and supporting information to characterize the relationship between surface waters and groundwater, identifying surface waters most likely to be impacted by groundwater withdrawals in the region. This project also provided guidance on effective resource monitoring strategies and costs for each type of surface water feature.
On behalf of the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Geological Survey collected information and conducted an assessment of the hydraulic properties and chemistry of selected aquifers in the metro area. This project greatly improves the accessibility of existing data, which were previously available only in scattered paper reports. A robust database of groundwater age, aquifer hydraulic conductivity and groundwater chemistry data was developed to make the information easily accessible to water resource managers.
The Twin Cities metropolitan area has a rich history and connection with its waters. In an effort to keep surface waters clean, a wide variety of stormwater practices have been developed and installed throughout the metro in recent years. Many of these, such as rain gardens and infiltration basins and trenches, are intended to reduce the total runoff volume by infiltrating stormwater. Six to seven aquifers underlie the metro area and provide residents with drinking water.
In 2005, Metropolitan Council was directed to carry out regional water supply planning activities under Minnesota Statutes, section 473.1565. Working closely with the region's many water supply stakeholders and under the guidance of a metropolitan area water supply advisory committee, Metropolitan Council developed and adopted a metropolitan area master water supply plan (master plan) in 2010. The plan provides a framework for water supply planning and identifies actions needed to achieve the goal of ensuring sustainable water supplies across the region.
The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), are exploring opportunities for water conservation by businesses in the eleven county metropolitan area. This program began by defining opportunities for water conservation for three businesses through the dedicated resources of three MnTAP interns. The interns analyzed water conservation opportunities through full time work on site over the summers of 2014 and 2015.
On behalf of the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Geological Survey evaluated the vulnerability of glacial aquifers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The project improved upon previous vulnerability assessments by incorporating a substantial amount of new aquifer property information and blending methods previously used by the Minnesota Departments of Health and Natural Resources. The result is a consistent vulnerability assessment across the metropolitan area based on the most up-to-date information available.
The Twin Cities area is host to a nationally renowned system of regional parks that provides numerous outdoor recreational opportunities for the public while preserving green space for wildlife habitat. The Metropolitan Council is using this appropriation to partially finance the acquisition of approximately 195 acres to be added to existing metropolitan regional parks, with priority given to lands with shoreland, lands that provide important natural resource connections, and lands containing unique natural resources.
The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, is evaluating outdoor water use in the Twin Cities metro region - a subject which has come under the spotlight recently due to concerns related to water quality and quantity issues. In the Twin Cities, 20% of all treated drinking water is used outdoors, with a majority of this being used on lawns and landscapes. The goal of this proposal is to reduce water use in the home landscape by conducting assessments, research, and demonstration around the smart use of irrigation.
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.
In 2005, Metropolitan Council was directed to carry out regional water supply planning activities under Minnesota Statutes, section 473.1565. Working closely with the region's many water supply stakeholders and under the guidance of both policy and a technical water supply advisory committees, Metropolitan Council supports regional groundwater planning and analysis in order to respond to emerging regional water supply issues and achieve sustainable water supplies.
Regional recharge modeling with the Twin Cities daily soil water balance (SWB) model has been a fundamental part of the Metropolitan Council’s groundwater flow modeling effort and supports the Metropolitan Area Master Water Supply Plan. The SWB model is used to evaluate the impact of planned and potential land use and climate on recharge in the eleven-county metropolitan area, and supports the ongoing update of the regional groundwater flow model.
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.
The Metropolitan Council (Council) implemented a water efficiency grant pilot program effective September 30, 2015 to June 30, 2017. Grants were awarded on a competitive basis to municipalities that manage municipal water systems. The Council provided 75% of the program cost; the municipality provided the remaining 25%. Grants were made available in amounts with a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $50,000. Grantees were required to provide estimated water savings achieved through this program for Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment reporting purposes.