Minnesota Water Science Center
ABOUT THE MINNESOTA
Water Resources of Minnesota
Welcome to the USGS Minnesota Water Science Center. These pages are your source for water-resource information collected and interpreted by the U.S. Geological Survey in Minnesota.
Minnesota Water Science Center activities include:
Quick Link to Real-Time Data:View site list: SW | GW | WQ
Minnesota Water Science Center Activity on Twitter
Tweets by @USGS_MN
Minnesota Monitoring Networks
The USGS Minnesota Water Science Center continuously monitors surface water, ground water, and water quality parameters across the state. Monitoring sites are operated in cooperation with various local, State, or Federal agencies.
Minnesota provides real-time water-stage, streamflow and precipitation data at 149 sites across the state.
33 ground-water wells are monitored by the USGS in Minnesota. These wells record data on hourly intervals.
Water-quality conditions are continuously monitored by the USGS at 11 sites across the state of Minnesota
View the Google Map developed by the NWIS team that displays all Minnesota Surface-Water sites, Groundwater sites, and more.
Floods of June 2012 in Northeastern Minnesota
This report documents the magnitude and extent of flooding in northeastern Minnesota following heavy rainfall during June 19-20, 2012. Widespread flash and river flooding caused evacuations of residents, and damages to residences, businesses, and infrastructure. Peak-of-record streamflows were recorded at 13 of 35 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages in the nine counties in northeastern Minnesota with disaster declarations due to the flooding. Flood-peak streamflows in June 2012 had annual exceedance probabilities estimated to be less than 0.002 (0.2 percent; recurrence interval greater than 500 years) for five streamgages, and between 0.002 and 0.01 (1 percent; recurrence interval greater than 100 years) for four streamgages. High-water marks were collected to represent the flood-peak water-surface profile within the most severely affected communities of Barnum (Moose Horn River), Carlton (Otter Creek), Duluth Heights neighborhood of Duluth (Miller Creek), Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth (St. Louis River), Moose Lake (Moose Horn River and Moosehead Lake), and Thomson (Thomson Reservoir outflow near the St. Louis River). Flood-peak inundation maps were constructed in a geographic information system by combining high-water-mark data with high-resolution digital elevation model data. The flood maps and profiles show the extent and depth of flooding through the communities and can be used for flood response and recovery efforts by local, county, State, and Federal agencies.
Data via GoogleMaps
New Maps Deliver Current Streamflow Conditions
We added a Google-Map based Web page to deliver map-based current surface-water resources conditions in Minnesota.
The maps utilize zoom and pan to allow you to focus in on the water-monitoring sites that interest you. The maps show current streamflow as compared to historical records. By hovering your mouse over a site, a popup box shows the most recent stage and streamflow.
News from the MN WSC
New USGS Report published
The physical setting of lakes, which includes underlying geology, elevation and surrounding land use, is the most significant driver of lake-level changes in the Twin Cities, according to a new study published by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Scientists with the USGS analyzed 96 lakes in the northeast metropolitan area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, to determine why water levels recently declined in some, including White Bear Lake, yet increased in others. They found that not all lakes in the area respond similarly to weather and groundwater pumping, and White Bear Lake is especially sensitive to lake-level changes because of its unique deep-water seepage to lower aquifers.
"Water-level changes in White Bear Lake have been the largest of the northeast metro lakes monitored since 1925," said Perry Jones, a USGS scientist and lead author of the report. "Our study showed that water is flowing out of the lake at deeper depths, and this may be contributing to larger water-level changes."
The scientists studied lake levels during short-term (2002-2010) and long-term (1925-2014) periods, and compared them to landscape and geologic characteristics, climatic factors and local groundwater withdrawals. The study found that:
The study also showed that groundwater enters White Bear Lake from shallow sites near the shore, and leaves from deep-water sites at the bottom of the lake. When water flows out from these deep sites, it flows into aquifers beneath White Bear Lake. These deep-water outflows are uncommon in Minnesota lakes, and make the lake uniquely sensitive to water-level declines.
James R. Stark, Director
Summer 2016 Newsletter Released
The Summer 2016 newsletter highlights the work of Danny Morel, celebrates the promotion of Mark Brigham to Investigation Section Chief, announces various new publications, and provides numerous updates for current projects.
Arsenic Project in the News
Minnesota Public Radio went in-depth reporting on an ongoing study investigating arsenic in wells. The study is a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Health and the U.S. Geological Survey.
New USGS Report on Mercury in the Nation’s Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications
A new USGS report summarizes findings from studies focused on the sources, occurrence, trends and bioaccumulation of mercury in stream ecosystems across the United States. It highlights the importance of environmental processes, monitoring, and control strategies for understanding and reducing stream mercury levels.
Mercury is a pervasive contaminant of streams and lakes, and has resulted in fish consumption advisories in all 50 States. Mercury can travel long distances in the atmosphere and be deposited in watersheds, thus contaminating fish even in areas with no obvious source of mercury pollution. Understanding the source of mercury, and how mercury is transported and transformed within stream ecosystems, can help water resource managers identify which watersheds are most vulnerable to mercury contamination.
New Journal Article Published
The USGS is pleased to announce the release of a new article in the Journal of Environmental Quality documenting the effects of agricultural land retirement on stream-sediment sources. Documenting these effects is important for identifying management practices that improve water quality and aquatic habitat. Many conservation easements are discontinuous along channelized streams and ditches throughout the agricultural Midwestern United States-these areas of discontinuous conservation easements were a focus of this article. Channel-bed and suspended sediment were sampled at nine locations and compared with local source samples by using linear discriminant analysis and a four-source mixing model that evaluated seven tracers: In, P, total C, Be, Tl, Th, and Ti. Isotopic and elemental concentrations in the sources and stream varied with land retirement distribution along tributaries of West Fork Beaver Creek in Minnesota. The proportion of sediment sources differed significantly between suspended and channel-bed sediment. Retired land contributed to channel-bed sediment but was not discernible as a source of suspended sediment, suggesting that retired-land material was not mobilized during high-flow conditions. Stream banks were a large contributor to suspended sediment, but this was less evident in basins with more continuous retired land along the riparian corridor. Along stream reaches with retired land, there was a lower proportion of cropland material in suspended sediment relative to sites that had almost no land retirement, indicating less movement of nutrients and sediment from cropland to the channel as a result of land retirement. For more information contact Tanja Williamson, email@example.com or Victoria Christensen, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Paper on Mercury Trends in Northern Minnesota
The U.S. Geological Survey and collaborators are pleased to announce publication of a new paper on mercury trends in northern Minnesota. Key findings from this study: Wet deposition of mercury decreased considerably in northern Minnesota from 1998-2012. Wet deposition of sulfate and hydrogen ion-also important in the aquatic mercury cycle-also decreased during the same period. Consistent with decreases in these atmospheric pollutants, two of four study lakes in Voyageurs National Park also showed considerable decreases in methylmercury in water and year-old perch. However, in a third lake, methylmercury levels increased in water and fish; a fourth lake showed no consistent trend.
Longtime USGS Bemidji Oil Spill Research Site Featured on Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota Public Radio aired a story featuring USGS research that has been conducted over the past 35 years at the location of the Bemidji oil spill.
"Where is the water in White Bear Lake?" - The story and history of White Bear Lake
New Paper Published
USGS Scientists, Kathy Lee (Minnesota Water Science Center) and Larry Barber (National Research Program) were coauthors on a paper by Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt (University of St Thomas) published recently in Environmental Science and Technology that investigated the relative contributions of wastewater effluents on fish health in Minnesota surface waters. Transcriptomic characteristics in fish indicated that WWTPs serve as an important source of endocrine active chemicals that affect cholesterol and steroid metabolism. Transcriptomic effects-based monitoring re?ected measured water chemistry gradients, thus holding promise for assessment of relative contributions of point sources to observed biological effects. This is an important advancement to our understanding of landscape processes and ecological implications resulting from an integration of academic and inter-agency collaborations.
White Bear Lake Project in the News
The White Bear Press has released an article describing the start of the second phase of the White Bear Lake Project, expanding the study to other northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area lakes. A team of scientists conducted seismic surveys in White Bear and five other northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area lakes in mid-November to look for changes in the geology of lake bottom sediments that may indicate areas of potential seepage into lower aquifers.
Report Published: Evaluation of internal loading and water level changes: implications for phosphorus, algal production, and nuisance blooms in Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
The U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Water Science Center is pleased to announce a new publication, "Evaluation of internal loading and water level changes: implications for phosphorus, algal production, and nuisance blooms in Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota" by Victoria Christensen and Richard Kiesling (USGS) and Ryan Maki (National Park Service). The publication in the Journal of Lake and Reservoir Management highlights how dam operations have the potential to affect water quality in reservoirs. Dam operations at Kabetogama Lake were modified in 2000 to restore a more natural water regime and improve water quality. The U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service evaluated nutrient, algae, and nuisance bloom data in relation to changes in Kabetogama Lake water levels. Water and sediment data were collected at Voyageurs National Park during 2008-2009 to assess internal phosphorus loading, that is phosphorus released from the bottom sediments, and determine whether this is a factor affecting phosphorus concentrations and algal productivity. Stratification in certain areas, higher bottom water and sediment nutrient concentrations than in other parts of the lake, and phosphorus release rates estimated from sediment core incubations indicated that Lost Bay on the northern side of Kabetogama Lake is one of several areas that may be contributing to internal loading. Internal loading of phosphorus is a concern because increased phosphorus may cause excessive algal growth including potentially toxic cyanobacteria. Comparison of the results of this study to previous studies indicates that chlorophyll a concentrations have decreased, whereas total phosphorus concentrations have not changed significantly since 2000.
Report Published: Mercury in wetlands at the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, northwestern Minnesota, 2007-9
A new report on mercury in wetlands at the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge was published on June 3. The largest wetland and prairie restoration in United States history recently was completed at the Refuge. More than 3000 acres of wetlands were restored, more than 100 miles of ditches were filled, and nearly 18,000 acres of land was reseeded with native prairie plants. Microbial conversion of inorganic mercury to the bioaccumulative methylmercury form is a particularly active process in wetlands, making wetlands important methylmercury "hotspots" on the landscape. Concentrations of methylmercury in the Glacial Ridge NWR wetlands are among some of the highest in the published literature, suggesting seasonal wetlands of northwestern Minnesota are "hotspots" for mercury methylation, and may be a potential concern for wildlife.