The Metropolitan Council is warning about the increasing use of groundwater across the metro.
Until the late 1970s, the seven-county region relied primarily on the Mississippi River for its water needs. But today, about 70 percent of the metro, including Richfield, relies on municipal and private wells that pump groundwater.
“Aquifers are being depleted; lakes, streams, and wetlands are being damaged; and in some areas, groundwater levels have declined by as much as 40 feet, roughly one foot each year, since the 1970s,” a news release quoted said Keith Buttleman, assistant general manager of the Council’s Environmental Services division.
In Richfield, water use is expected to grow 9.3 percent between 2010 and 2020—from 4.3 million gallons per day on average to 4.7 million gallons per day, according to Met Council data. By 2030, it’s expected to climb to 1.97 billion gallons per year, exceeding the 1.90 billion gallons it’s permitted now.
Richfield also faces potential interference from private wells, and parts of the community are vulnerable to contamination, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The water table elevation could sink by more than one meter if water use grows as expected.
The trend doesn’t have to continue, the Met Council contends. Its models show that the drain on aquifers would slow, and in some cases reverse, if 24 of the cities close to Minneapolis and St. Paul started getting their water from the central cities, which rely on river water and have plenty of extra capacity.
As it stands now, just 16 of the region’s 186 communities rely on the Mississippi.
The table above shows projected 2020 average daily water use per person in Twin Cities communities, according to the Met Council.
The colors mean:
- Green: Projection not provided (mostly townships)
- Pink: 73 to 98 gallons per day
- Purple: 98 to 123 gallons per day
- Blue: 123 to 148 gallons per day
- Yellow: 148 to 173 gallons per day
- Orange: 173 to 198 gallons per day
- Red: More than 198 gallons per day