'Groundwater stories' begin with the aquifer and those sharing it

Sharing with your neighbors is a choice, except when it comes to drawing water from the same aquifer. We rely on groundwater if we live in a rural community, operate a feedlot, irrigate crops, or invest in the diverse industries across the state. This sharing can take many forms. It could be a small cluster of feedlots and irrigated fields tapped into a small, isolated aquifer, or two or more towns and a large industry miles apart. With the diverse geology in Minnesota each community has a unique groundwater story. 

The DNR southern region resumed reaching out to communities to deliver the “first chapter” of their groundwater story. DNR staff meet with the local government staff prior to presenting to the city council, county or SWCD board, township or other planning bodies.

To begin the story the DNR provides three bits of information; 1) the size of the aquifer, 2) the water use trends, and 3) what the observation wells show about the aquifer levels. If the communities see a need they can initiate a Community-based Aquifer Management Partnership (CAMP), where other agencies get involved and more details of the story can be developed. The community can also include their needs and desires relative to their economy or growth plans. Because many communities have a limited water supply, water becomes a deciding factor in whether it can support irrigation, home developments, or a wet industry. For example, a 160-acre irrigated corn field may use as much water as a town of 700 people.

Local and state groundwater goals can best be met if communities recognize that land use decisions are also water use decisions. To learn more about the CAMP or learn about your own groundwater story, contact Tim Gieseke, DNR Groundwater Planner and CAMP coordinator at 507-359-6039 or tim.gieseke@state.mn.us.