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 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.
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. Three projects are underway to identify the advantages and disadvantages of combining water supply systems, using new water supply sources such as treated water from Saint Paul Regional Water Services or raw water from the Mississippi or St. Croix rivers, and optimizing groundwater pumping to protect water levels in White Bear Lake and other lakes across the northeast metro.
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 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.
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.
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.
The DNR has been charged by the legislature to develop rules that protect and manage the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) for natural resource, economic development, transportation, historic preservation, and other values. This project engages stakeholder groups in a public process to balance regulatory protections with local flexibility and control.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.