Aquifer Monitoring for Water Supply Planning

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,375,000
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,375,000
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,375,000
2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,500,000
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,500,000
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$525,000
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$600,000
Source: 
Clean Water Fund
Status: 
In Progress
Start Date: 
July 2009
Activity Type: 
Inventory, Modeling, Demonstration/Pilot Project, Education/Outreach/Engagement, Assessment/Evaluation, Monitoring, Planning, Analysis/Interpretation
Counties Affected: 
Statewide
Project Details:
2016 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2015, First Special Session, Ch. 2, Art. 2, Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language 
(e) $1,375,000 the first year and $1,375,000 the second year are for water supply planning, aquifer protection, and monitoring activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,375,000
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
10.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY16, the DNR will install an additional 50 wells in priority areas of concern and continue to refine the process to compile and deliver data. We will do this by adding a web-based input system for data from cooperators (Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Cities) and upgrade the website so the public can access groundwater data. We will continue to work with our partners at the MPCA, MDH, MDA, BWSR, MGS, and Metropolitan Council to make groundwater data sharable and available between agencies. We will also continue migrating chemistry data from the Geologic Atlas Program to the EQuIS database. We will continue to work with our partners at other Agencies and MN.IT to establish shared data governance standards.

We will continue developing groundwater sustainability thresholds. These thresholds will be used to identify problems that could by caused by groundwater pumping for certain lakes, rivers and wetlands that depend on groundwater. When completed, these thresholds will be used to help us make individual permit decisions about groundwater appropriations.

We will finish building a computer model for groundwater in the Little Rock Creek area and we will start developing one for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area.

We will continue to provide technical support for communities developing water supply plans. For example, we will work with Moorhead on its analysis of the Buffalo Aquifer and the role it plays in Moorhead’s water supply planning. We will also continue to provide training for soil and water conservation district staff in FY16.

We will conduct nine aquifer tests to provide information about regional aquifer information needs, and our aquifer test database will become operational in FY2016.
Project Details:
2015 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language 
$1,375,000 the first year and $1,375,000 the second year are for water supply planning, aquifer protection, and monitoring activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,375,000
Direct expenses: 
$1,246,904
Administration costs: 
$154,895
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
10.8
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY15, The DNR will continue enhancing its groundwater monitoring network and data management system and decision-making abilities.
- We will continue development of Standard Evaluation Procedures that will be used for the establishment of groundwater sustainability thresholds and identifying adverse impacts to groundwater-dependent surface water features.
- Observation Well Network Enhancement. The DNR will install approximately 65 new observation wells in areas of the state that are experiencing increasing water use or concerns about water levels, including municipal water supplies for small communities.
- Observation Well Network Management. We will maintain or seal the current wells in the observation well network which are not currently being used due to poor performance.
- Hydrology Data Project. In FY15, chemistry data from the Geologic Atlas Program will be incorporated into the Hydrology Data Domain system to provide greater access to the data for users of the data. Data currently in paper files will be entered into databases.
- Ground Water Data Website. A map-based website will be developed to provide easy access to groundwater elevation information and other hydrology data.
- We will continue to provide technical support for communities developing water supply plans including the cities of Rochester and Moorhead, and others.
- We will continue to provide technical analysis of existing information and assessments for Groundwater Management Areas (GWMA): North and East Metro GWMA, Straight River GWMA, and Bonanza Valley GWMA.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY15, the DNR enhanced its groundwater monitoring network and data collection network by installing 165 new groundwater level monitoring wells and equipped 203 wells with devices that record water levels every 15 minutes. We compiled 61 annual continuous water level records across the state.

We are working with our agency partners to develop statewide systems for entering, managing, and sharing water and climate data for Minnesota’s state and local governments that generate and use this data. With Clean Water Funds, we developed a new quality assurance process for our groundwater level data and transferred it to a cooperative DNR/MPCA database, and we launched a new cooperative groundwater monitoring website which provides access to all available groundwater level data from over 950 DNR- operated observation wells.

We worked to develop groundwater sustainability thresholds which will be used to identify problems that could be caused by groundwater pumping for certain lakes, rivers and wetlands that depend on groundwater. We also worked with 24 communities to develop or review and approve water supply plans.

We provided training for soil and water conservation district staff across Minnesota. This training significantly increased local government’s knowledge and understanding of groundwater, and highlighted the need for more resources to manage groundwater at the local level.

We conducted eight aquifer tests (focused investigations that help estimate the potential impacts from high capacity pumping from water supply wells) to learn more about regional water sustainability issues. We are also creating an interagency aquifer test database in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Health, which uses aquifer tests to evaluate and establish drinking water wellhead protection areas.
Project Details:
2014 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language 
$1,375,000 the first year and $1,375,000 the second year are for water supply planning, aquifer protection, and monitoring activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,375,000
Direct expenses: 
$1,149,106
Administration costs: 
$257,141
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
12.6
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 


In FY14, DNR will continue to enhance its groundwater monitoring network and data management system. The DNR will begin development of Standard Evaluation Procedures which will be used for the establishment of groundwater sustainability thresholds.
- Observation Well Network Enhancement. DNR will install approximately 65 new observation wells in the State. These new wells will be placed in both new locations as well as in existing areas to service under represented areas and to replace damaged or poorly performing wells. Some of the wells are designated as “sentinel monitoring wells” because they provide signals of when groundwater pumping is adversely affecting surface water bodies.
- Observation Well Network Assessment and Management. DNR completed the statewide assessment of observation wells and will maintain or seal the current wells in the observation well network which are not currently being used due to poor performance.
- Hydrology Data Domain Project. Scoping and initial development will be completed for the Hydrology Data Domain Project. This project will integrate and provide easy access to hydrologic data used in well appropriation decisions and permitting decision-making. Monitoring information will include groundwater elevation data, groundwater contamination data, surface water data (lakes, streams, wetlands), climatology data as well as other hydrologic data. Data will include monitoring information from DNR, MPCA, MDA, Met Council, and MDH.
- Ground Water Data Website. Development will initiated for a map-based Ground Water Data Website which will be designed to provide easy and direct access to groundwater elevation information for all DNR Observation Wells.
Measurable Outcome(s) 


In FY14, DNR enhanced its groundwater monitoring network and data collection network by installing 40 new groundwater level monitoring wells equipped with devices that record water levels every 15 minutes. This information is used to evaluate the effect of groundwater pumping on water levels.
- The statewide observation well assessment project was completed in FY14.
- Groundwater Monitoring Network Enhancement - Completed a monitoring plan with locations for 75 new monitoring wells (outside of the 11-county metro area).
- DNR led multi-Agency efforts to conduct “synoptic surveys” to collect water levels in hundreds of domestic water supply wells, monitoring wells, and lakes for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area in the vicinity of White Bear Lake.
- Hydrology Data Project. Developed conceptual plan to integrate hydrologic data and provide easy access to data for analysis related to appropriation permit decisions. Monitoring information will include groundwater elevation data, groundwater chemistry and contamination data, surface water data (lakes, streams, wetlands), and various climatology data from DNR, MPCA, MDA, Met Council, and MDH.
- Provided technical support for communities developing water supply plans including the cities of Rochester and Moorhead.
- Provided technical analysis of existing information and assessments for Groundwater Management Areas (GWMAs): North and East Metro GWMA, Straight River GWMA, and Bonanza Valley GWMA.
Project Details:
2013 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6, Art. 2, Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language 
$1,500,000 the first year and $1,500,000 the second year are for water supply planning, aquifer protection, and monitoring activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,500,000
Direct expenses: 
$854,617
Administration costs: 
$140,787
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
10.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 


In FY13, DNR will increase data collection in potential Groundwater Management Areas (GWMAs):
* Complete geophysical surveys in two potential GWMAs to increase understanding of aquifer characteristics.
* DNR, with support of other organizations, will complete synoptic measurements of groundwater levels in three potential GWMAs.
* Work on aquifer models will be initiated for two areas of concern.
* DNR will finalize reporting for statewide DNR observation well assessment.

Public Communications on Resource Management & Sustainability
* DNR will lead or participate in meetings with stakeholders and interagency staff for areas of concern where long-term sustainability of groundwater use is being evaluated.
* DNR will assess the feasibility of bringing water supply planning assistance to communities (populations of less than 1000) not previously encouraged nor required to prepare water supply plans.
* DNR will move toward designation of two or more groundwater management areas.
Measurable Outcome(s) 


In FY13, DNR enhanced its groundwater monitoring network and data collection network by installing 65 new groundwater level monitoring wells equipped with devises which record water levels every 15 minutes. This information is used to evaluate the effect of groundwater pumping on water levels. The statewide observation well assessment project was also completed in FY13. DNR also led multi-Agency efforts to conduct “synoptic surveys,” in which water levels in hundreds of domestic water supply wells, monitoring wells, and lakes are measured in one day. Synoptic surveys were completed for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area and for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area. Finally, DNR completed groundwater models in the Straight River and Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Areas. The models evaluated options for perimeter boundaries for the Straight River and Bonanza Valley areas. Geological cross sections needed for three-dimensional mapping was also done for portions of the Straight River and Bonanza Valley areas. DNR also participated on the technical advisory committee for the development of the Metro Model 3, a groundwater-flow model of the greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.
Project Details:
2012 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6, Art. 2, Sec. 6(e)
Appropriation Language 
$1,500,000 the first year and $1,500,000 the second year are for water supply planning, aquifer protection, and monitoring activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,500,000
Direct expenses: 
$715,316
Administration costs: 
$239,944
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
7.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 


In FY12, DNR will participate in or lead meetings with stakeholders and interagency staff in four groundwater management areas. Staff will also:

* prepare paper files for data mining: review, sort and scan 10 linear feet of hard copy files from ethanol projects and groundwater areas of interest to electronic format;

* achieve significant progress with data-mining and work planning on six of the ranked groundwater management areas; and

* assess the feasibility of bringing water supply planning assistance to communities not previously encouraged nor required to prepare water supply plans.
Measurable Outcome(s) 


In FY12, DNR led and participated in stakeholder meetings with interagency staff, cities, counties and local organizations to evaluate and advance the concept of groundwater management areas (GWMA) in seven resource critical areas of the state. Based on DNR’s technical review of the groundwater/surface water resources and current and future use, two areas were identified for potential designation by the Commissioner of the DNR as groundwater management areas.

DNR worked with agency partners to finalize locations for 10 new observation well nests (2 wells in each nest) in three potential groundwater management areas. Additionally, DNR instrumented over 100 observation wells in geographic areas of concern with state-of-the-art data loggers for continuous water level monitoring.

To get more and better information about groundwater in three areas of concern, the DNR, along with many partner organizations, completed an intensive effort to measure groundwater levels in over 400 wells and over 80 lake levels within a span of 9 days.

Data mining was completed for groundwater areas of concern. DNR reviewed, sorted and scanned over 10 linear feet of hard copy files from ethanol projects and groundwater areas of concern to electronic format.
Project Details:
2011 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2009, Ch. 172, Art. 2, Sec. 5(b)
Appropriation Language 
$600,000 the first year and $525,000 the second year are for drinking water planning and protection activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$525,000
Direct expenses: 
$687,305
Administration costs: 
$32,400
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
5.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 


Measurable Outcome(s) 


Project Details:
2010 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2009, Ch. 172, Art. 2, Sec. 5(b)
Appropriation Language 
$600,000 the first year and $525,000 the second year are for drinking water planning and protection activities.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$600,000
Direct expenses: 
$228,781
Administration costs: 
$13,785
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY10, DNR will complete a statewide assessment to identify areas with existing and potential water supply issues. Staff will also define the scope of work for studies and monitoring for 20 communities with existing or potential water supply issues, and work with stakeholder groups on the development of aquifer management plans in two pilot areas.



Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY10, DNR worked with agency partners to assess and rank areas with potential water supply issues. The team chose 20 areas (8 non-metro and 12 metro) for trial evaluation of level of effort needed to establish a groundwater management area and collect adequate data to develop aquifer management plans, and completed scoping process for the 8 non-metro areas. Staff conducted significant monitoring and held stakeholder meetings to lay the groundwork for aquifer management plans in two pilot areas: Moorhead and Bonanza Valley (Brooten-Belgrade area).



Project Overview

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.

About the Issue

In Minnesota, growth in demand for water resources is outstripping population growth. As water use increases, planning for adequate water supply is crucial to preventing water shortages and protecting lakes, streams, and wetlands - especially sensitive groundwater dependent trout streams and fens.

Project Manager

Stephen
Thompson
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road
Saint Paul
55155
651-259-5733