consultants are sandburs

Monday, February 25, 2013

Strib has a report about water usage and the future. Ramsey has drilled all the municipal wells the DNR has allocated it, already, and Flaherty and others will be adding demand. Those living here since the 1960's - 1980's and later, without municipal water connections, are those who as long time residents DO NOT want new demand to run their established single-family-home private domestic wells dry. Also, hooking into the municipal system is NOT WANTED, as both too costly, and unneeded.

Strib here. Do your own web search for Minnesota being in the middle of an extended string of drought years. Earlier Crabgrass posts about water are here, here, here and here, for example.

There is smart growth, in more ways than Met Council cares to openly discuss. Smart growth includes limitations on profligate expansion beyond the environment's ability to cope. Hopefully this new council is attentive to water and habitat issues, and the question of wetland buffering and wetland protection can be revisited by council members not predisposed to trumpet "property rights" above protecting the collective needs and feelings of all already here and using water.

It is not a simple thing.

A large part of the justification of the third water tower* was to prevent demand surges as a threat to storage capacity. If that's a concern now, what's the future, a fourth tower, or constraints upon growth?

The Strib report, again here, is lengthier than most Strib online posts, this excerpt being from the middle:

Last year the White Bear Lake Restoration Association filed suit against the DNR, alleging that it violated environmental standards by allowing local communities to take more water than is sustainable for the lake and aquifer. It asked the court to establish protected water levels for both.

DNR officials declined to comment on the pending complaint.

Soon, the problem could spread beyond White Bear Lake. If the Twin Cities metro area grows by half a million people over the next two decades, at current rates of water use, whole sections of the Twin Cities’ aquifers will drop by half, even with normal rainfall, hydrologists say. At that point, state regulators would shut down the pumps to protect what’s left. Even if water use drops by 30 percent over the next decade, there would still be problems in some parts of the metro area, said Ali Elhassan, water supply manager for the Metropolitan Council.

“People plan for the future,” he said. “Well, the future is now.”

[emphasis added] The future is now, and new council people need to consider environmental constraints upon growth because it appears a housing rebound may be on tap soon.

"On tap" being the concern.

* Relevant council minutes from 2009 when the tower was approved are here at p.11, here at p.9, here at Case 3, and here, at page 10. Because linking to LaserFiche WebLink can be tricky, the meeting dates - regular council sessions - are 1/27/09, 5/12/09. 6/23/09, and 7/28/09. See also city website, here.

See Met Council items, e.g., here, here and here. That last item is a City of Ramsey document, but difficult to impossible to locate on the City's webpages. Also, there is this google. When one gets to looking at Met. Council approaches, it is difficult to separate politics from environmental limitations. The Met. Council has water supply jurisdiction over the seven-county Metro area, but the aquifer that supplies Ramsey domestic water supplies extends beyond the Met Council's jurisdiction; while the DNR has statewide jurisdiction over water resources, in general.

There is much on the web about Minnesota/Metro water issues. Some resources, in a semi-random "as found" order are: DNR here and here; "metadata" here; Met Council stuff, this google, here (tedious detail), here (Metropolitan Area Water Supply Advisory Committee membership), here (Metropolitan Area Water Supply Planning: Clean Water Fund Activities Report to the Legislature: January 15, 2011 - reader help on 2012 reporting needed - beyond resources listed below), here (Master Water Supply Plan -- March 2010 - with links - reader help requested re any update), here (2010 Master Plan text - 113p), here (2030 and 2050 water demand grwoth projections - 52p report), here (a 2006 item - visuals), here (DNR requirements for Met Council, p.3 re surface water impact monitoring in Ramsey, below), and what looks as if it is the Met Council's Water Supply homepage, here.

From here, p.3.

A Met Council water plan-modeling update page, apparently, this link.

This Met Council page at its 11/14/12 entry, links to a confusing image, p.4 here, showing a "Model 3" embracing 11 counties in its model impact area, but still with only 7 counties under Met Council jurisdiction; the confusion being the amount of fight in the other four counties if seeing encroaching hands and minds. See also Nov. 2012 model update info, here and here.

At the risk of redundancy, Met Council having more "stuff" online than a weasel has fleas; here, and here (Ramsey specific). Page captioned, "Study examines impact of growth on water supply in Ramsey," here, mentioning revised modeling and BARR Engineering as a consultant; where the worry always is that if on-the-ground growth demand runs rampant the model can always be adjusted to say, "That's okay."

Some Met Council items were not listed above, but are listed now below, via these ten "Example presentation pages" (click any thumbnail to enlarge and read, or click given links to access the online original):

From here, p6 of 27.

From here, p4 of 12.

From here, p5 of 24.

From here, p6 of 24.

From here, p23 of 24.

Ramsey area, wells and monitoring.
From here, p15 of 27.

Master Plan Maps - p2, here.

Master Plan Maps - aquifers - p6, here.

Master Plan Maps - wetland impacts - p11, here.

Master Plan Maps - 2030 FIG drawdown - p14, here.

With detail of this kind, link errors become likely, hence reader feedback help on noting any bad links would help other readers.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
This press release was forwarded to me from the ABC League of Women Voters:

February 24, 2013
Contact Katherine Whelchel
Phone Number:  763.421.3875
League of Women Voters Presents Topic of
Water Supply Sustainability in the North Metro
The League of Women Voters ABC invites the public to attend their March program at the Andover Senior Center on Monday evening, March 11 for a presentation by Lanya Ross, Principal Environmental Scientist with the Metropolitan Council.  Her topic will be “Water Supply Sustainability in the North Metro”.   

The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning agency of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  Ross will speak about the regional analyses Metropolitan Council is conducting to understand the cumulative and long-term impacts of the seven-county metropolitan area’s water use choices.  She will include a discussion of how individual actions can impact the sustainability of water supplies. 

Lanya Ross has spent over a decade working on water supply planning issues in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  She has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Macalester College and a master’s in geology from Northern Arizona University. Some past projects include water resource planning for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakotah Community, groundwater modeling of Grand Canyon National Park’s public water supply, and development of the Twin Cities metropolitan area’s first master water supply plan.

Jamie Schurbon, Water Resource Specialist with the Anoka Conservation District, will provide a local perspective on water sustainability in Anoka County, including a preview of the information in the soon to be published Anoka County Geologic Atlas. He has been employed by Anoka Conservation District for the past 13 years where he is responsible for water quality and quantity monitoring, data analysis and reporting, and coordinating projects to improve impaired water bodies.   The completion of the Geologic Atlas of Anoka County has recently been his special concern.  He will describe this project and its significance.

All are invited for social time and refreshments at 6:00 pm, followed by the program and discussion at 6:30 pm.  The Andover Senior Center is next-door to Andover City Hall at 1685 Crosstown Boulevard NW.  Enter the City Hall parking lot from Crosstown, and proceed to the end of the parking lot. 

For additional information, contact Katherine Whelchel at

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.

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