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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 courses.

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 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 being lifted.




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