DNR approves groundwater area plan for north and east metro

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this week approved a plan designed to ensure adequate supplies of groundwater within the state’s first designated groundwater management area. The designated area includes all of Washington and Ramsey counties, along with portions of Anoka and Hennepin counties.

The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area Plan lays out five broad objectives and describes specific actions the DNR will take to ensure adequate groundwater supplies to meet human needs while protecting lakes, streams and wetlands. The plan was developed over two years by DNR staff and an advisory team of nearly two dozen representatives of local government, industry and other agencies.

“Here in the land of 10,000 lakes and hundreds of streams and rivers, it’s easy to take water for granted,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “But in some parts of Minnesota, such as the north and east metro area, growing demands on groundwater could place our aquifers and other resources at risk if we’re not careful. This plan explains how the DNR will work to make sure our use of groundwater remains sustainable.”

A statewide analysis of groundwater resources identified the north and east metro region as an area of concern because it has many surface waters connected to and affected by groundwater levels, and the area’s population and water use are increasing. The plan provides a framework within which the DNR will work with major water users, including municipalities.

This cooperative effort will promote conservation, protect surface waters and water quality, improve the groundwater appropriations permitting process, and resolve any conflicts that might arise among users. The plan addresses a broad set of challenges in this large geography, and also addresses issues related to several specific features such as White Bear Lake, the wet prairie complexes of Anoka County and certain trout streams.

Over the plan’s first five years, the agency will meet periodically with users and other stakeholders to provide updates and hear concerns. At the end of that time, the DNR will review the plan and its results to determine future actions.

The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area is one of three groundwater management areas being established around the state. The other two are in central Minnesota’s Bonanza Valley just west of St. Cloud, and around the Straight River near Park Rapids in north-central Minnesota.

More information, including plans and maps for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area, can be found on the DNR website.