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.
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 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.
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.
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 (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.
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.