DNR kicks off new approach to groundwater

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is launching its new approach to groundwater this month. It earlier identified three places that bear scrutiny and now is getting into the field to explain things to residents, local officials, businesses and others.

Last night it held a show-and-tell for some 200 people in Shoreview to talk about the groundwater management area in the north and east Twin Cities metro area. Later this month it will do likewise in the Park Rapids area and the Bonanza Valley region in western Stearns County.

MPR News’ Ground Level project is taking a months-long look called “Beneath the Surface” at the pressures on Minnesota’s groundwater and how the state is changing how it might ensure sustainability. Here’s a little of the description of last night’s Shoreview session from the Ground Level blog.

“This is a brand new page for us,” DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr told the group. “We don’t know what it will look like in the end.”

The best outcome, Landwehr stressed, would be a plan for groundwater use devised by cities and residents themselves in the north and east metro area. That could spell out a variety of conservation, re-use, water-sharing, leak detection and other measures all aimed at making sure the area doesn’t use more groundwater than is sustainable.

But ultimately, authority for protecting and appropriating Minnesota’s water lies with the state.

“You guys figure it out,” Landwehr said. “If you can’t figure it out, we’ll do it for you. But the affected entities will give a better decision than a top-down decision.”