2016 - Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area Plan

October 3, 2016

Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area:

Designation and Plan Minnesota is rich in water resources. With more than 10,000 lakes, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and many thousands of acres of wetlands, it might be natural to think that our water is essentially unlimited. But in some parts of the state, the unseen, underground aquifers that make up our groundwater resources are under pressure to meet growing needs for domestic water supplies, irrigation, industrial and other uses. These groundwater resources also are interconnected with lakes, streams and wetlands that we value for commerce, recreation, and water supplies. Those surface waters also provide the habitat needed by many animals and plants. If we are not careful in how we use water, both economic development and ecosystems could be put at risk.

These concerns led the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to explore a different approach to groundwater management in three areas around the state where trends suggest groundwater use might be or become unsustainable. After working with an advisory team of 27 people representing agriculture, local government, and other agencies since February 2014, the DNR is establishing the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area, which is hereby designated to include all of the areas delineated in the plan accompanying this letter, including areas of Pope, Stearns, Kandiyohi, Douglas, Swift, Meeker and Todd counties. We have created this five-year plan to guide our work in this area to ensure that groundwater supplies remain adequate to meet human needs while protecting lakes, streams and wetlands.

I believe this plan is a very positive step for Minnesota. It draws upon a wealth of technical expertise across a variety of sectors. It has been informed and improved by extensive input and feedback from major water users, local government, concerned citizens and other interests. The plan is comprehensive yet achievable. It lays out clear objectives and specific actions the DNR will take to ensure sustainable use of groundwater. It also acknowledges that DNR cannot be successful alone, and describes the important roles of water users and other agencies.

I want to thank the volunteers who served on the Project Advisory Team and the people who actively participated in meetings throughout the process. The many hours you dedicated are very much appreciated. This plan provides a good starting point, but working to maintain the Bonanza Valley water resources will require many more people, agencies and interests continuing to work together in the years to come. I’m confident that will happen, because Minnesotans have shown their commitment to natural resource conservation and stewardship.

Tom Landwehr