Groundwater Management Areas

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
Clean Water Fund
In Progress
Start Date: 
July 2013
Activity Type: 
Inventory, Modeling, Demonstration/Pilot Project, Education/Outreach/Engagement, Analysis/Interpretation, Assessment/Evaluation, Technical Assistance, Planning, Mapping
Counties Affected: 
Anoka, Becker, Clearwater, Douglas, Hubbard, Meeker, Pope, Ramsey, Stearns, Swift, Wadena, Washington
Project Details:
2015 Fiscal Year
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
The DNR will conduct technical analysis of existing information in each GWMA and finalize a plan that can be approved by the DNR Commissioner and implemented over the next 5 years within these areas. Each plan will include specific actions that DNR will take to: ensure groundwater use does not harm aquifers and ecosystems, and does not negatively impact surface waters; ensure that groundwater use is reasonable, efficient and complies with water conservation requirements; ensure groundwater use will not degrade water quality; ensure groundwater use does not create unresolved well interferences or water use conflicts; and ensure all groundwater users have the necessary permits to use groundwater.

For complete information, see the GWMAs webpage at
Project Details:
2014 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(j)
Appropriation Language 
$3,000,000 the first year is for beginning to develop and designate groundwater management areas under Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.287, subdivision 4. The commissioner, in consultation with the commissioners of the Pollution Control Agency, health, and agriculture, shall establish a uniform statewide hydrogeologic mapping system that will include designated groundwater management areas. The mapping system must include wellhead protection areas, special well construction areas, groundwater provinces, groundwater recharge areas, and other designated or geographical areas related to groundwater. This mapping system shall be used to implement all groundwater-related laws and for reporting and evaluations. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2017.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
Direct expenses: 
Administration costs: 
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY14, the DNR will lead a year-long effort in three proposed Groundwater Management Areas: the North and East Metro GWMA, the Bonanza Valley GWMA, and the Straight River GWMA. A series of stakeholder meetings will be held and Preliminary Assessment Reports will be completed for all three GWMAs.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY14, the DNR initiated planning projects and stakeholder involvement efforts to establish three groundwater management areas (GWMA’s). DNR formed a project advisory team (PAT) for each of these areas to provide advice and feedback during the GWMA planning process. The project advisory team includes cities, permitted users, business people, conservation districts and other state agencies. DNR completed preliminary assessments of technical information and shared that information with the PAT’s over a series of monthly meetings. Discussions about potential actions are ongoing and will inform plan development.

For complete information, see the GWMAs webpage at

Project Overview

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 three areas include: the North and East Metropolitan Region, which includes all of Ramsey and Washington Counties, and the southern portion of Anoka County; the second area includes the Straight River, near Park Rapids; and the third area includes portions of Pope, Stearns, and Kandiyohi counties, known as Bonanza Valley, which includes the towns of Glenwood, Brooten, Belgrade, Elrosa and other communities.

Clean Water Funds are used to hire project managers, meeting facilitators and support stakeholder engagement to inform and advise the planning process.

About the Issue

Water is crucial to Minnesota’s economies and ecosystems. Minnesota has a well-deserved image of having abundant water resources, nevertheless, water is not evenly distributed across the state. Despite our popular image, water is becoming scarce in parts of Minnesota. Unprecedented water use conflicts are arising between businesses, towns, and residents. In most areas of the state, we are not yet in “crisis” mode when it comes to water availability. We have time to address these issues and ensure that Minnesota’s economies and ecosystems have adequate water supplies in the future.

Each of the selected pilot Groundwater Management Areas has been experiencing increased use and reliance on groundwater to meet public or private needs. The purpose of a groundwater management area is to organize resources and people to better understand the risk of overuse and contamination in these areas, and to develop a plan that the Department of Natural Resources can implement to ensure sustainable use of water.

Project Manager

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road
Saint Paul