By Carmelita Nelson, Water Conservation Specialist, Minnesota DNR
Over the summer of 2021, stream flows dropped below minimum protective flow levels throughout much of the state, resulting in hundreds of temporary permit suspensions. Actions were also taken to protect groundwater levels and municipal water supplies in several areas of the state with limited aquifers. These suspensions impacted golf course operations and many others, highlighting the need for water use efficiency and contingency plans.
As required by the State Drought Plan, all public water suppliers in the impacted watersheds were asked to implement water use reduction actions with a goal of reducing water use to 25%-75% above January levels depending on the severity of the drought in their watershed. Cities serving over 1,000 people were required to implement demand reduction measures from their Water Supply Plans. The DNR has started the process of updating our statewide drought plan that will focus on preparedness of Minnesota communities and businesses and planning for resilience as our climate changes and water needs evolve.
A free resource that can provide guidance and track progress is the new Water Conservation Reporting system. Minnesota is the first state in the nation to measure water conservation on a statewide basis. The statewide Water Conservation Reporting system, is a tool available for DNR permitted golf course operators, to showcase their best practices and measures their conservation progress.
From mid-October through March 30, golf course irrigators can report their water efficiency measures they are implementing. This web-based Water Conservation Reporting System complements the water use reporting system.
The goal in gathering this data is to measure water conservation actions, track success and encourage efficiency. Ensuring sustainable use of waters, reducing losses and waste of water is everybody’s responsibility. The data will be aggregated, summarized and used in various legislative reports, conference presentations and other outreach with partners.
Golf courses will continue to report their monthly water use totals to the DNR through the existing Minnesota Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS) and pay the annual water use fee. Once this is completed, there will be a link taking water users to the Water Conservation Reporting system.
For additional information please see the DNR water conservation reporting system webpage or contact Carmelita Nelson, DNR water conservation specialist, at 651-259-5034 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While water is not unlimited, Minnesota is taking action to ensure we manage it sustainably. Continued vigilance and coordination with Minnesotan’s and water users is essential.