Drought forces DNR to restrict water use

The ongoing drought is forcing the Department of Natural Resources to restrict water use around Minnesota.

More than a dozen industrial and recreational sites have been required to suspend pumping from state waterways.

Levels have sharply declined in rivers and other surface waters as the drought continues. DNR water permits allow a variety of customers to pump water, but those permits also require cutbacks if water levels get too low.

That's happening now, and last week the DNR suspended numerous water pumping permits. Most are for golf courses or other recreational locations.

"Last week we sent out 16 letters. And there was one in Hubbard County, Blue Earth, one in Martin, several in Polk, to surface water users. And they were told then to stop pumping water as of last Thursday midnight," said Julie Ekman, DNR water regulations unit supervisor.

The restriction affects some industrial customers, as well, including American Crystal Sugar, Southern Minnesota Construction and the Minnesota Pipeline Company.

It's likely that more water pumping permits will be suspended as the drought continues, Ekman said.

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