Community meeting focuses on future of water supply for region

There was a good turnout of community residents and water protection organizations March 11 for the League of Women Voters ABC’s program on water supply sustainability.

The program, held at Andover City Hall’s Senior Center, provided an overview of how groundwater works, why it is becoming a major issue in the Twin Cities and actions that residents can take to protect groundwater.

Program organizer Gretchen Sabel, a planner with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s water program, facilitated the evening’s presenters. Leading off was Jamie Schurbon, water resource specialist with the Anoka Conservation District, who provided background information about Anoka County’s geology and groundwater, which included debunking a number of popular myths.

He showed some startling modeling results from the Metropolitan Council whi0ch predict three- to 10-foot draw downs of the water table, lakes and wetlands across large parts of Anoka County in just the next 17 years and even more dramatic impacts later.

“Draw downs of some lakes are already being witnessed, with White Bear Lake as only the most well-known,” Schurbon said.

Schurbon went on to describe the Anoka County geologic atlas project which will produce multi-level maps of geology and hydrology.

“Anoka County is the last metropolitan county to complete a geologic atlas and the new information will greatly improve the ability to effectively predict and manage groundwater changes,” he said.

Schurbon spoke about actions that all residents can take to conserve groundwater with reduction of lawn watering being most important.

“Lawn watering is more than half of an average household’s annual water usage and it is the primary reason that summer water usage is four to five times greater than winter,” he said.

Moving from a local perspective to a regional one, Sabel introduced Lanya Ross, principal environmental scientist with the Metropolitan Council, who described her organization’s work with regional water supply planning.

Ross recognized the usefulness of the Anoka County geologic atlas for improving water supply decision making for local residents as well as supporting the current update of the Metropolitan Council’s regional groundwater flow model.

The model is used to analyze cumulative and long-term impacts of the region’s many individual water supply decisions, she said.

Ross also shared information about the Twin Cities metropolitan area master water supply plan and the current initiative to better integrate water supply planning into the regional development framework and regional policy plans.

“Metropolitan Council analysis illustrates that ‘business as usual’ is not sustainable and changes in water supply management are needed,” Ross said.

She concluded by sharing two Metropolitan Council tools that promote the wise use of water, the water conservation toolbox and the stormwater reuse guide.

Many of the publications and resources referenced by the evening’s speakers are contained in a summary of the program on the website This website is a water resources management initiative to provide public information and coordination with Anoka County agencies, communities and water management organizations.

Bart Biernat, environmental health specialist with Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services, was present for the program, informed attendees of the website and shared information about county services, including the availability of well water testing.

Program co-organizer Mary Jo Truchon, a member of the Anoka Conservation District Board of Supervisors, summarized the importance of the evening’s topic.

“The availability of clean drinking water has to be a top community priority,” she said. “Our speakers are bringing us the most timely information about groundwater.”

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

For additional information, contact Katherine Whelchel [email protected].

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