RESTON, Va. — New research may help water resource managers assess the sustainability of long-term water use in Minnesota and quantify critical groundwater resources, according to a press release.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists recently estimated annual rates of potential recharge, or the natural replenishment of groundwater, over 15 years throughout Minnesota, stated the release.

The study showed that the statewide mean annual potential recharge from 1996-2010 was 4.9 inches per year, reported the release.

Recharge rates increased from west to east across Minnesota, added the release, and the month of April generally had the highest potential recharge.

Improved projections of recharge are necessary because around 90 percent of agricultural irrigation water and 75 percent of drinking water in Minnesota are supplied from groundwater, continued the release.

“Resource managers in Minnesota can use this study to help inform water use or water conservation guidelines throughout the state,” said Erik Smith, USGS scientist and lead author of the report.

Recharge rates must be high enough to compensate for water lost to lakes, streams and other surface water bodies or removed for uses such as agriculture to maintain a stable supply of groundwater, noted the release.

Read the entire release here.