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, Barr Engineering Company was contracted to assess the local water resources in the City of East Bethel area, where the city and Metropolitan Council are working closely to design a water reclamation and reuse facility intended to treat wastewater generated by future growth. This project evaluated plans for land use, water and sewers using a local groundwater flow model to identify potential risks to high-value water resources.
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.
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.
Working with Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM) evaluated the feasibility of using stormwater runoff for irrigation and other purposes that traditionally rely on potable water. Effective implementation of stormwater reuse practices can lower demands on drinking water supplies and reduce impacts from aquifer decline, while simultaneously reducing mass loading of pollutants to surface waters.
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. The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with S.E.H. consultants, evaluated water supply approaches to serve the northeastern part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. A subregional study areas was selected based on the indication of potential problems with the long-term sustainability of current water supplies, as well as expressed interest by community stakeholders.
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 University of Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) identified opportunities for industrial water users in the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area (N&E Metro GWMA) to reduce their water consumption as part of the Department of Natural Resources strategies under the GWMA plan. The source of water in this delineated region is almost exclusively groundwater. Several approaches were used for this effort in order to reach, inform, and interact with a broad range of industrial users.
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.
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 goal of this project is to evaluate projected water demand, groundwater contamination and potential natural resource impacts in southern Washington County to ensure water supplies are developed sustainably. An important part of this project involves working with stakeholders to identify common goals and objectives, as well as ways to enhance coordination amongst water suppliers and water resource managers.
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.
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.
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, in conjunction with CDM Smith and HKGi consultants, reorganized and expanded the water conservation tools on the water supply planning pages of the Metropolitan Council’s website. The revised toolbox was organized into an online, web-based guide format. These tools are supplemented with fact sheets and case studies that serve to educate and provide useful information to support water conservation programs and activities.
The Metropolitan Council (Council) implemented a water efficiency grant 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.