Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DNR reaching out to livestock operations regarding water use

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reaching out to feedlot operators and owners of livestock operations to help them determine their needs and comply with water use requirements.

Users of large quantities of water must apply for a water appropriations permit and report water use. Producers can find out more about the regulations and their operations' compliance at www.mndnr.gov/mpars.

Livestock operations using between 1 million and 5 million gallons per year must apply for a general permit, which is easier to get than the individual permit required of anyone pumping more than 5 million gallons of groundwater annually. Both types of permits, which are applied for online, also require users to track and report how much water they use each year.

"Some of the requirements around groundwater appropriations are not well known by producers, and we want to help," said Joe Richter, a DNR groundwater appropriations hydrologist. "We're encouraging people to contact us so we can help them figure out how to meet the permitting requirements."

Groundwater – which comes from underground aquifers – is relied upon for drinking water, irrigation, industry and many other uses. It's also linked to water levels in many streams, lakes and wetlands, and can be a critical factor in the health of aquatic habitats.

Across the state, demands on groundwater have grown by an average of 35 percent over the past 25 years; but in some areas groundwater use has increased by as much as 175 percent. These increases have led the DNR and others to pay much closer attention to groundwater use to assure that supplies remain adequate to meet human needs without adversely affecting surface waters and aquatic habitats.

The agency has been reaching out to agricultural irrigators, golf courses, municipalities, mobile home parks and other entities that may be large users of groundwater, in addition to livestock operations.

More about permits and how to apply for them can be found at www.mndnr.gov/mpars. People without internet access, or those with other questions, also can contact DNR hydrologists Joe Richter, Joe.Richter@state.mn.us; 651-259-5877; or Mary Coburn, Mary.Coburn@state.mn.us, 651-259-5732.

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