The Department of Natural Resources designated the state’s third groundwater management area this week. The Straight River Groundwater Management Area in northwestern Minnesota includes parts of southern Clearwater, northeast Becker, southwest Hubbard and northwest Wadena counties. Cities within the boundary include Park Rapids, Osage and Ponsford.
In addition to the designation, the DNR approved a management plan for it. The plan lays out five objectives with specific actions the DNR will take to ensure that use of groundwater remains sustainable within the area. The plan was developed over several years with the help of an internal DNR project team, an advisory team of external stakeholders, and additional public review and discussion.
“With more than 10,000 lakes, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and many thousands of acres of wetlands, it might be natural to think that our water is essentially unlimited,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “But in some parts of the state, the unseen, underground aquifers that make up our groundwater resources are under pressure to meet growing needs for domestic water supplies, irrigation, industrial and other uses. These groundwater resources also are interconnected with lakes, streams and wetlands that we value for commerce, recreation, and water supplies. Those surface waters also provide the habitat needed by many animals and plants. If we are not careful in how we use water, both economic development and ecosystems could be put at risk.”
The plan provides a framework within which the DNR will work with major water users, including municipalities and agricultural irrigators, to use groundwater sustainably. This cooperative effort will promote conservation, protect surface waters and water quality, improve the groundwater appropriations permitting process, and help resolve any conflicts that might arise among users.
This is one of three groundwater management areas being established around Minnesota. The other two are in the north and east metropolitan area and in the Bonanza Valley near Paynesville in west-central Minnesota.
More information, including plans and maps for the Straight River Groundwater Management Area, can be found at on the management area webpage.