Little Rock Creek Sustainable Groundwater Use Planning Project Update

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Little Rock Creek Sustainable Groundwater Use Planning Project

February Project Update

Project Background:

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is bringing people together in the Little Rock Creek area to hear their advice on groundwater. What is discussed at the public meetings during the next year will help shape a DNR action plan to ensure that groundwater use in the area is sustainable and can continue to support irrigation, economic growth, safe drinking water, healthy ecosystems and recreational opportunities. 

The DNR project involves the development of a five-year plan to guide DNR actions in managing the use of groundwater. Groundwater use in the Little Rock Creek area has been increasing at a rate more than five times faster than across the rest of the state. The risk of overuse and contamination grows along with increased groundwater use. If the plan is successful, drinking water will be more secure, the needs of businesses and agriculture will be met, and the rivers, lakes and wetlands we enjoy will be healthy.

The first meeting of the “Little Rock Creek Sustainable Groundwater Use Planning Project” was held January 12, 2016 in the City of Rice. The meeting was open to the public and more than 100 people attended.

Discussion Topics:

Attendees choosing from a multiple choice list said they were most concerned about:

  • water supply for irrigation and livestock, and
  • drinking water quality. 

The next most common responses were groundwater permit requirements, risk of groundwater overuse or contamination and water quality in lakes and streams.

DNR staff described a preliminary project area they will use to develop a groundwater model. The model will help answer questions about the connectedness of groundwater and surface water features in the Little Rock Creek area. Attendees were concerned that the DNR may not use enough water level information to develop the computer model. Staff responded that any applicable historic data will be combined with the most recent aquifer test information to accurately calibrate the model. In addition, during the next year, the DNR will invite academic and industry experts to review and provide advice for the groundwater model development to ensure the process is held to high standards.

When asked for advice, responses were wide-ranging. The most common responses encouraged the DNR to have good communication, build partnerships, use sound science, provide education, be transparent and assure fairness. 

Project Manager Mark Hauck described the goal of the Sustainable Groundwater Use plan for the Little Rock Creek area. When successful, the plan will ensure that groundwater use will not harm water quality, negatively impact rivers, lakes and wetlands, or deplete aquifers beyond the reach of domestic and municipal wells.

Assistant Commissioner Barb Naramore closed the meeting and underscored the importance of the task of assuring that all Minnesotans have access to groundwater that will provide a sustainable quality of life. 

First Project Advisory Team Meeting

A Project Advisory Team (PAT) is being formed, comprising water appropriation permit holders and others with an interest or expertise in groundwater. This team will meet over the next year to advise the DNR on a plan for DNR actions to assure sustainable groundwater use. The first meeting of the PAT will be held at Rice City Hall from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 2. The public is welcome to attend. 

Contact Information

Direct questions about this project to Mark Hauck, DNR project manager, at 320-223-7846 or . Receive email updates and follow progress of the plan from the DNR’s project web page: . For more information on groundwater management, visit