DNR cancels Aug. 27 Bonanza Valley Project Advisory Team meeting

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources header

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is canceling the regularly scheduled Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) project advisory team meeting on Aug. 27, while it recruits more members.

Recent changes to state statute require the majority of advisory team members be from public and private entities that have water use permits. To meet this requirement, the DNR needs to add 14 new members to the advisory team.

Over the past eight months, the project advisory team for the Bonanza Valley GWMA has been meeting monthly to help DNR develop a plan for ensuring sustainable use of groundwater.

“Together, we’ve covered a lot of ground with many interesting discussions along the way,” said Mark Hauck, project manager for the Bonanza Valley GWMA. “The DNR sincerely appreciates the advisory team’s time, interest and commitment to the project.”

The next meeting of the project advisory team will be Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon, at the VFW Soboe Leverson Post in Belgrade. Meetings are open to the public and time is provided for attendees to offer comments and ideas.

Bonanza Valley update from July 23 Project Advisory Team meeting

The Project Advisory Team for the Bonanza Valley GWMA met Wednesday, July 23 in Paynesville.

Project Background: The DNR is establishing a Groundwater Management Area in the Bonanza Valley in Central Minnesota area to enhance its ability to make better decisions on groundwater appropriation permits. The DNR shares responsibility for managing groundwater resources with public sector partners, as well as with individuals and businesses that use groundwater. The DNR is responsible for permitting high volume groundwater users, for collecting information on groundwater resources, and for providing technical assistance that supports groundwater conservation.

Agenda Topics:

Greg Kruse, DNR water monitoring and surveys unit supervisor

 Greg presented on Strategy 2a—Improve information available for groundwater management decisions—Improving the monitoring network.

The DNR collaborates with federal, state and local governments, private industry and about 2,500 citizens to help monitor water levels and rainfall across the state. Groundwater monitoring has increased over the past several years through funding from the Clean Water Fund. In the Bonanza Valley GWMA, there are 15 stream flow gages (two more will be added next year) and 48 water level monitoring wells with more to be added in the future.  

Research studies also provide information that informs decisions. In the Bonanza Valley, the DNR plans to install more monitoring networks including automated data collection and improved data management. The DNR is increasing data coordination with other local, state and federal organizations.

Tom Hovey, Water Permits Unit Supervisor, DNR Ecological Water Resources

Tom presented on Strategy 3—Improve the management of groundwater appropriation permits.

The decision to issue, modify or deny an appropriation permit(s) includes a number of considerations that are described in MN Statutes and Rules. Specifically, the DNR must consider current water levels, future projected water levels, water quality, ecosystems, and future generations when assessing sustainability for groundwater resources.

The DNR is working on ways to improve the permit decision process to comply with statutes and ensure sustainable water use. For example, the DNR will develop a new and consistent process for reviewing or altering groundwater appropriation permits. Each permit will be evaluated to determine if the use is legal, reasonable, and if it will affect other wells, water levels, aquifer yields, water quality, wetlands, streams or lakes. Permits also will be considered together to evaluate cumulative effects.  This means that permits that were issued previously will also be reviewed.

As described above, the DNR is enhancing the monitoring information collected in the Bonanza Valley area to help ensure that water use is sustainable.

Advisory Team Discussion

The team offered a range of ideas on improving information available for groundwater management decisions through small group discussions and feedback sheets. The DNR will review and consider all advisory team ideas when drafting the Bonanza Valley GWMA plan. Below are some ideas shared at the meeting:

  • Install more monitoring wells,
  • Share water data with water users so that they may plan their upcoming years’ water use,
  • Provide more ‘real time’ groundwater, water use, climate and sustainability thresholds,
  • Consider all categories of groundwater use in the Bonanza Valley and their impacts,
  • Develop a water budget that considers not only use, water levels and water quality, but also considers the human and natural systems that can be affected by water use,
  • Alert permit holders of potential changes to permits as soon as possible so aid in cropping decisions,
  • Better understand how groundwater use affects wetlands, lakes and streams,       

Contact Information

Questions about this project may be directed to Mark Hauck, DNR project manager at 320-223-7846 or at mark.hauck@state.mn.us. For more information on all GWMAs, visit www.mndnr.gov/gwmp/index.html.