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.
A multi-partner effort has begun to study the amount of nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) leaching loss that occurs below an agricultural field recently converted from timber land to irrigated row crop production. The landowner has made the property and their staff available to better understand the deep drainage and nitrate leaching dynamics following this type of land use change. This study is unique.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) to develop County Geologic Atlases to convey geologic and hydrogeologic (groundwater) information and interpretations to government units at all levels, but particularly to local governments, as well as private organizations and citizens. The MGS focuses on geology (Part A reports) and DNR focuses on groundwater (Part B reports).These studies provide information about the region’s geology and groundwater’s presence, direction of flow, natural quality, age, and pollution sensitivity.
The Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program identifies environmental contaminants for which current health-based standards currently do not exist or need to be updated, investigate the potential for human exposure to these chemicals, and develop guidance values for drinking water. Contaminants evaluated by CEC staff include contaminants that have been released or detected in Minnesota waters (surface water and groundwater) or that have the potential to migrate to or be detected in Minnesota waters.
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.
The Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a tool that can identify water pollution problems based on how the type and abundance of certain species in a biological community vary from expected conditions. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency currently uses IBIs for fish and macroinvertebrates (stream-dwelling insects and other critters) to help determine whether streams and rivers are impacted by water pollution.
This project will establish a groundwater monitoring network in the 11 county metropolitan area. The network will provide information about aquifer characteristics and natural water trends by monitoring healthy aquifers (non-stressed systems). The project will also develop an automated system that captures groundwater level and water use data. This system will enhance evaluation of changes in aquifers that are stressed by pumping from existing wells.
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.
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. The WHAF website strives to make complex issues easier to visualize. An interactive map delivers 27 health scores organized by the five components.
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 to watershed managers and landowners regarding drainage issues. Drainage experts are using a state of the art computer model to look at cumulative impacts of drainage and land-use practices and determine the benefits of site-specific best management practice. This work is with multiple partners and at multiple scales.