Invited cities are strongly encouraged to participate in the meeting.
(Published Jan 6, 2014)
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has invited 50 communities and 200 businesses that have water appropriation permits in the north and east metro to a meeting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 8 at the Shoreview Community Center. These invitees are all within an area that is being designated as a Groundwater Management Area due to concerns about the use of groundwater in the area being unsustainable. The proposed area covers all of Washington and Ramsey counties and the southern third of Anoka County.
The meeting will cover what the state is proposing to do in that area; how it could affect water appropriation permit holders and their current and future appropriation needs; and what the expected timeline, process, and products of this effort will be. The department’s goal is to have permit holders involved at an earlier stage of development than might normally be the case to make sure perspectives and concerns are understood as draft plans are developed, so it is important for invited cities to have both elected officials and appropriate staff in attendance, if possible. It is expected that there will be future meetings with this same group to keep the communication and feedback loop open as this statutorily required process moves forward.
The DNR is the state agency responsible for determining what amounts of water can be used in any given area and for issuing permits for large water users. The 2013 legislative session had extensive discussions about groundwater use that resulted in the DNR being tasked with developing groundwater management areas when overall water use in an area is found to be unsustainable. The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area is one of the high priority areas due to visible indicators like the water level drop in White Bear Lake.
Establishing precedent for city involvement
The League and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce have agreed to co-sponsor these meetings as a way to ensure that our members have as much involvement and communication with the state as possible. In addition to direct impacts to city water systems, there are issues of fairness about how agricultural irrigation is affected, how the many thousands of smaller wells are included in solving identified problems, and whether any changes proposed create pressure for private wells within utility service areas or for development to occur outside public water supply service areas.
The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area is the first to be developed in the state, but other regions will see the same sort of process in the future, so how cities are included in this process will establish a precedence that will have statewide importance. The League will continue to be directly involved in making sure that city concerns are highlighted and understood as this process moves forward.
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