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The 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' Is Running Dry

Minnesota's depleting aquifers show consequences of climate change, unsustainable water management

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Sunset over White Bear Lake in Minnesota, whose dropping levels, the StarTribune reports, are a sign of a depleting aquifer. (Photo: Aaron Landry / flickr)

The entire state has been covered drought for months, and its water supplies are being sucked away.

This is the scene not in a scorching summer month in a normally dry area of the southwest, but today, in Minnesota—"Land of 10,000 Lakes"—where the consequences of climate change and unsustainable water practices have issued a stark warning.

In the Minneapolis StarTribune, Josephine Marcotty takes an in-depth look at how

many regions in the state have reached the point where people are using water — and then sending it downstream — faster than the rain and snow can replenish it.

This is causing an increasing number of Minnesota residents to have their wells fail.

Irrigation permits in the state are skyrocketing, Marcotty reports, and residential water demand has gone up as well.  In 2012, "Minnesotans used a record amount of water," she reports, and continues:

rising demand — from farm irrigation, a growing ethanol industry, a rising population — is pumping more water out of the ground than ever before.

And once it leaves the aquifer, it’s gone — routed through storm sewers or water treatment plants and into streams, rivers, and sooner or later, out of the state altogether.

And climate change is set to exacerbate the problem, which will likely bring more severe droughts and hard, pounding rain which will run off before soaking into the ground to replenish aquifers.

Ali Elhassan, water supply manager for the Metropolitan Council, told the StarTribune, "People plan for the future,” he said. “Well, the future is now."


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