Melting Snow

Q: How important are the snowmelt and spring rains to Minnesota’s ground water supply?

A: Snowmelt and rainfall during the spring months are the primary sources of replenishment for the ground water system in Minnesota. While a great deal of the melted snow and spring rain will run off into lakes and rivers, some of it infiltrates to the ground water system as soon as frost leaves the soil. Water stored as ground water gradually flows into rivers and lakes through springs and seeps, helping to maintain river and lake levels. Most of the summer precipitation is taken up by growing vegetation or is evaporated. As plants go dormant at the end of growing season, a portion of fall rains can infiltrate the subsurface and also replenish ground water. Ground water supplies 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water and nearly 90 percent of the water used for agricultural irrigation.
– Jan Falteisek, DNR hydrogeologist