Land-altering activities have the potential to impact groundwater resources as well as groundwater dependent natural resources. Without proper land-use and water resource management, the following impacts may occur: reduced groundwater recharge, reduced groundwater quality, alterations to drinking water supply, and alterations to the functions and values of groundwater dependent natural resources.
The Brown's Creek Watershed District contains groundwater dependent natural resources which have the potential to be impacted by increasing development pressure in the watershed. While some of these resources are well known to the public, for example Brown's Creek, there are other unique resources that had not been identified until the North Washington Groundwater Study and the Natural Resource Inventory were performed.
The impairment of Brown’s Creek, declining groundwater levels, and reduced baseflow in the creek highlight the need to protect, conserve and utilize the region’s groundwater in ways that protect public health, support economic growth and development, maintain habitat and ecosystem health, and provide for recreational opportunities.
The Washington County Groundwater Plan (2014-2024) lists several actions that should be addressed by Watershed Management Organizations (WMOs) including BCWD:
- Develop, through the Washington County Water Consortium, a county-wide groundwater monitoring plan and a data tracking and mapping system in coordination with WMOs.
- Collaborate with LGUs and WMOs to identify and preserve regional recharge areas. Encourage LGUs and WMOs to incorporate protection of recharge areas into plan updates.
- Work with Public Water Suppliers and WMOs to strengthen education efforts, and develop and distribute materials needed to inform home owners on where they get their water from, what source water protection is, and the efforts they can make to ensure that they do not contaminate their drinking water.
- Identify available partnerships and funding opportunities to address agricultural nutrient management (with) Watershed Districts/WMO programs.
Water Saving Strategies for Home Lawns (Information Provided by University of Minnesota Extension)
On average, three times more water is used during the summer than in the winter in the Twin Cities, and much of this water is used outdoors. If you own an irrigation system or water your lawn with portable sprinklers, you can reduce your overall water use by implementing some practical strategies:
- Pay attention to the weather During a Minnesota summer we may see heavy periods of rainfall followed by extended periods of drought. Homeowners with lawns should adjust irrigation practices accordingly. Operating irrigation controllers in manual mode is one way to monitor and cut down on water use, rather than using an automated schedule.
- Select turfgrass species that use less water and can tolerate drought Choice of grass species will impact irrigation requirements. Traditional turfgrass species for Minnesota include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue. The fescue species offer the best drought tolerance potential.
- Adjust irrigation programs to conserve water To encourage rooting and drought tolerance, lawns should be irrigated infrequently (one time or less per week) with a sufficient volume of water (up to 0.5 inches). Set irrigation programs or sprinklers to water during the morning hours, because daytime irrigation is often lost through evaporation or wind deflection.
- Implement water saving technologies Rain sensors connected to irrigation controllers are vital to conserving water. There’s no need for an automatic sprinkler system to be used when it’s raining.
- Conduct an audit on your irrigation system Irrigation auditing is one great way to conserve water. Irrigation contractors will often perform this service for you if you have a contract with them. Auditing an irrigation system includes three basic steps:
For more information:
- U of M Extension Lawn Care: www.extension.umn.edu/turfgrass
- U of M Turfgrass Science Blog: www.turf.umn.edu
- Sustainable Landscape Information Series: www.sustland.umn.edu
- U of M Yard and Garden News: http://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/
- Conducting an irrigation audit: https://www.irrigation.org/Resources/Audit_Guidelines.aspx
- ET estimates for Minnesota: http://agweather.cals.wisc.edu/sun_water/et_wimn
- U of M Climatology Working Group: http://climate.umn.edu/
BCWD Groundwater Data
Thank you to our resident volunteers for allowing Brown’s Creek Watershed District to take annual groundwater well measurements at your property. The measurements help identify trends in groundwater elevations that relate to interactions with our streams (such as Brown’s Creek), lakes and wetlands that depend on groundwater for their source of water.
With your participation, we have taken these measurements in 2002 and began taking annual measurements in 2012. We’ve been learning a lot, but your ongoing support will help us build a robust data set that will continue to be more useful.
- 2015 Groundwater Monitoring Report
- 2016 Groundwater Monitoring Report
- 2017 Groundwater Monitoring Report
- 2018 Groundwater Monitoring Report
- 2019 Groundwater Monitoring Report
- 2020 Groundwater Monitoring Report
In-Stream Piezometer Measurements
In 2015 BCWD installed piezometers into the bed of Brown’s Creek at eight locations. The piezometers measured groundwater levels 1-2 feet below the creek bed. Groundwater levels were compared to stream levels to determine if groundwater was flowing into or out of the creek. The results showed that some reaches of the creek gained groundwater throughout all of the monitoring season, while other reaches gained groundwater during part of the monitoring season and lost water during other parts of the monitoring season.
The data from this study are important for understanding groundwater interaction within Brown’s Creek. Data collected in 2015 were used in the Brown’s Creek thermal model as well as the Riparian Shading Study.Repeating this monitoring exercise in 2018 will provide more data on groundwater/surface water interactions under different groundwater and stream flow conditions.
- 2015 In-stream Piezometer Measurements