The DNR is working with local communities and an interagency team to define, prioritize, and establish groundwater management areas in Minnesota. Groundwater management areas will have increased data collection and monitoring that allow the state and local communities to understand water supplies, uses, limitations, and threats to natural resources that depend on groundwater. This information will support detailed aquifer protection plans that ensure equitable and sustainable groundwater and drinking water use for the future.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) to convey valuable geologic and groundwater information and interpretations to government units at all levels, but particularly to local governments, private organizations and citizens.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health to determine the level of contamination from mercury and other harmful chemicals in fish from Minnesota's lakes and rivers and to track the success of efforts to reduce mercury pollution. Clean Water Legacy funding is being used to significantly increase (more than double) the number of lakes and rivers that are assessed for mercury contamination on an annual basis. Fish are collected during DNR fishery surveys, processed for laboratory testing, and analyzed for contaminants.
The Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council work with forest landowners, managers and loggers to implement a set of voluntary sustainable forest management guidelines that include water quality best management practices (BMPs) to ensure sustainable habitat, clean water, and productive forest soils, all contributing to healthy watersheds. This project will monitor the implementation of these forest management guidelines and BMPs on forested watersheds in MN.
Minnesota’s use of groundwater has increased over the last two decades. An increasing reliance on groundwater may not be a sustainable path for continued economic growth and development. The DNR is establishing three pilot groundwater management areas (GWMA) to help improve groundwater appropriation decisions and help groundwater users better understand and plan for future groundwater needs associated with economic development.
The Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a tool that can identify water pollution problems based on the type and abundance of selected plants or animals. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) uses IBIs for fish and macroinvertebrates (stream-dwelling insects and other critters) in streams to help determine whether these waterways are impacted by water pollution. The DNR has developed a similar tool for fish in lakes and is developing a tool for aquatic plants. Both are used to help the MPCA identify lakes that may be impacted by water pollution.
Stream flow information is essential for understanding the state of Minnesota's waters. Clean water funding has allowed the DNR to expand a network of stream gages that support planning and implementation for clean water protection and restoration. These gages are also used as part of the interagency Flood Forecasting/Warning System. This expanded stream gaging network has also significantly increased the real time data available to recreational water enthusiasts via the internet.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) each collect similar information on streams in Minnesota such as water quality, fish species presence, or the quality of fish habitat. For example, the DNR might sample stream fish to assess whether the agency’s management activities such as fishing regulations or stocking are creating good angling opportunities for the public, while MPCA might sample fish to assess whether a stream meets regulatory standards for a healthy fish community.
The Watershed Health Assessment Framework is a web-based tool for resource managers and others interested in the ecological health of Minnesota’s watersheds. The framework uses five ecological components to organize and deliver information about watershed health conditions in Minnesota. The five components are: hydrology, connectivity, biology, geomorphology, and water quality.
This project delineates and maps watersheds (drainage areas) of lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands for the state of Minnesota and provides watershed maps in digital form for use in geographic information systems. These maps become the basis for clean water planning and implementation efforts.
The DNR's Regional Clean Water Specialists and Area Hydrologists work with other state agencies and local partners to help identify the causes of pollution problems and determine the best strategies for fixing them. A statewide coordinator works with the DNR and external partners to ensure funds are spent in the most effective and efficient manner to meet the State's clean water goals.
The DNR provides technical support regarding the causes of and solutions to drainage impacts, actively engaging with other Minnesota modelers and scientists working on issues related to altered hydrology. We use state-of-the-art models to look at cumulative impacts of drainage and land-use practices and determine the benefits of site-specific best management practices. This involves collaboration with multiple partners and at multiple scales.