Minnesota DNR implements water conservation measures
Due to unusually dry weather conditions, the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) has suspended 37 water use permits in 10 Minnesota
watersheds. Included in these suspensions are water permits for 18 golf
The suspensions were triggered by stream flow or basin water levels dropping
below protected levels in several of Minnesota’s watersheds. Permits for low
priority water uses have been suspended in the following watersheds: St.
Louis, Nemadji, Mississippi, Grand Rapids, Watonwan, upper St. Croix, Zumbro,
Bois de Sioux, Mustinka, and Vermillion (northern Minnesota).
The suspension will not affect any domestic water supplies, which are
considered first priority uses of water in Minnesota, according to DNR
officials. Water used for power production may be considered first priority
under circumstances defined by state statutes. First priority use does not
include industrial and commercial use of municipal water supplies.
The DNR Waters Web site contains an update on precipitation deficits over
the eight-week period from July 15 – Sept. 8 from the DNR’s State
Climatology Office. A map on the Web site http://climate.umn.edu/doc/journal/dry_mid_summer_2003.htm
illustrates the unprecedented nature of this situation. Precipitation for
the period ranked at or below the first percentile across large areas of
Minnesota. For those locations falling below the first percentile, mid-July
through early September 2003 rainfalls totals were near or below all-time
minimums for that span.
The DNR is encouraging water users to reduce their demands and make use of
alternative sources that would not further deplete the water levels of
lakes, streams and wetlands. Employing water conservation measures will also
assist in mitigating the dry conditions of many of the state’s watersheds.
“Every drop in the bucket does count,” said John Linc Stine, the DNR Waters
Division assistant director.
Stine said that the length and duration of the dry conditions seen in the
state this summer are unusual. “By reducing water demands now, we will be
conserving our valuable water resources for the spring,” Stine said.
Reinstatement of suspended permits will occur when flow at the designated
gage exceeds the specified low flow plus the cumulative instantaneous total
of all permitted appropriations from contributing surface water sources
within the watershed for at least 72 hours.
Stine said permits are likely to be reinstated on the St. Louis River
watershed because river levels have risen due to last week’s rainfall.
Additional rains are forecast that may result in other permit suspensions
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