Water sources and quality
Water sources in Minnesota
Water is a shared resource in Minnesota. Unlike western states that have prior appropriation water rights, anyone may apply to the Minnesota DNR for an irrigation permit. An appropriation permit is required for anyone using more than 10,000 gallons of water per day or more than 1 million gallons of water per year. Irrigation has expanded in Minnesota over the past 60 years (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Permitted irrigation area in acres over time (1952 – 2013) Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Monitoring and research has shown that the concentration of nitrate–N in groundwater has increased in areas with a high concentration of row crop agriculture and where soils are highly permeable. These areas are are classified according to water table aquifer vulnerability.
Preventing further degradation of groundwater will require careful irrigation water management and utilization of nitrogen fertilizer best management practices.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture – 2012
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Resources from the University of Minnesota Nutrient Management team