A brief q-and-a with Don Rosenberry

Don Rosenberry
Don Rosenberry

Here is a very quick mini-interview that the Freshwater Society conducted with Don Rosenberry, the U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist who will speak Thursday, June 6, on groundwater-surface water interactions:

What’s the main thing you will try to convey in your talk?

Lakes aren’t just isolated fish bowls that occupy the lowest parts of Minnesota’s landscape.  Most lakes in Minnesota are actually the surface expression of a much larger volume of water, namely the vast amount of groundwater that extends across virtually all of Minnesota. To various extents what happens to groundwater affects lakes and vice versa.  Sometimes that connection has a big influence on water chemistry and fish and even property values.

Do you sense any new awareness, among the general public and among scientists, of the connections between groundwater and lakes, streams and wetlands? Is the scientific community doing more to study and protect those places where interchange occurs most readily?

About 20 years ago the scientific community broadly adopted the concept that groundwater and surface water were a single resource.  Savvy water-resource managers took notice and began to change their management objectives and methodologies accordingly.  Minnesota has been one of the leaders in this regard.  We’re still in the process of figuring out where the connections are particularly strong and/or important.

What has been the biggest benefit, so far, of the research on White Bear Lake?

That it has been so visible.  This sort of problem is not new and I will show examples of other situations much worse than White Bear Lake.  But thanks to the extensive media coverage, along with broad distribution of reports such as your recent report on the sustainability of Minnesota’s groundwater, a larger percentage of the public is now aware that lakes and groundwater are inter-connected. What we do with one part of this resource can have broad-reaching and unintended consequences.