County Atlas - Regional Assessment Program

Jan Falteisek, Supervisor, 651-259-5665

This program creates maps and reports depicting the characteristics and pollution sensitivity of Minnesota's groundwater resources.


Description | County Geologic Atlas | Regional Hydrogeologic Assessment | Maps, Reports, and Data | Funding and Local Partnerships | Staff


The County Atlas - Regional Assessment Program exists to develop County Geologic Atlases and Regional Hydrogeologic Assessments. It is a joint program with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS).


Together with MGS, the County Atlas - Regional Assessment Program prepares map-based reports of counties (County Geologic Atlases) and multicounty regions (Regional Hydrogeologic Assessments) to convey geologic and hydrogeologic information and interpretations to governmental units at all levels, but particularly to local governments. This information and these interpretations contribute to sound planning and management of the state's land and water resources.

DNR Ecological and Water Resources, working with MGS, focuses on the following tasks:

  • Utilize the geologic data, maps, and reports prepared by MGS to characterize an area's groundwater hydrology and determine its geologic sensitivity to pollution.
  • Gather information describing the presence, direction of flow, and natural quality of groundwater in relation to geology so that groundwater resources can be managed effectively.
  • Produce databases and maps in digital Arc/GIS format so that geographic information system (GIS) tools can be used to update the databases and conduct further analyses.
  • Delineate groundwater resource areas of greater or lesser pollution sensitivity based on time of travel criteria and geologic factors.
  • Conduct training and education programs so that the data and maps are used appropriately and effectively to manage and protect groundwater resources.
  • With MGS, provide the geologic and hydrogeologic data, concepts, and interpretations fundamental to system-based management.

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pieces of paper

County Geologic Atlas.

A County Geologic Atlas is a systematic study of a county's geologic and groundwater resources. Geologic studies include both near-surface deposits and bedrock. Groundwater studies include flow systems, aquifer capacity, groundwater chemistry, and sensitivity to pollution . In some areas sand and gravel deposits, sinkholes, or other features are studied. The information is organized, analyzed, and displayed using GIS technology.

Atlas information is used in planning and environmental protection efforts at all levels of government. Source water protection and well sealing programs are examples of local programs that need geologic and groundwater information. Other typical uses include providing information for permit applications and plans and emergency response to contaminant releases. The information is also used by businesses and the general public.

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Regional Hydrogeologic Assessment

A Regional Hydrogeologic Assessment is similar to an atlas in that both geology and groundwater are studied. However, a regional assessment covers a larger area--typically four to nine counties--in less detail. A regional assessment emphasizes near-surface geology, groundwater properties, and sensitivity to pollution.

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Maps, Reports, and Data

Each atlas or assessment report is intended to present practical information in an understandable and accessible format that is useful to both the general user and technical professionals. Reports include maps and interpretive reports of geology; groundwater; pollution sensitivity; and, in some cases, special studies. Most projects also provide separate Geographic Information System (GIS) files of the geology and ground water maps. To check if your county has a report available, see mapped areas.

To order published reports:

Minnesota Geological Survey
Map and Publication Sales
2609 Territorial Rd.
St. Paul, MN 55114
tel. 612-626-2969

To access or request atlas or assessment GIS coverages:

See the mapped areas page for information about the progress of atlases and assessments. Click on the area of interest to go to the area's project page where instructions for downloading or ordering GIS data for specific projects are given. Most, but not all, atlases and assessments have GIS data available. For assistance with GIS data contact Holly Johnson, DNR Ecological and Water Resources, 651-259-5693,

To access or request Part B atlas or assessment water chemistry data:

Additional data may also be available for download or by request. Selected chemistry and isotope data of water samples analyzed for Part B projects is available by downloading project GIS data files. More complete data is available for download at chemistry data access. For questions or assistance contact Todd Petersen, DNR Ecological and Water Resources, 651-259-5698,; or call 651-259-5700.

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Funding and Local Partnerships

Program funding comes from the DNR Ecological and Water Resources budget as appropriated by the legislature. Projects may also be supplemented by other funding sources that support geologic mapping at the MGS. Since 2007, additional funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources has supported new atlas projects at the MGS. Since 2009, additional funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources has supported new atlas projects at the DNR. Beginning in 2010, county geologic atlases have been supported by additional funding from the Clean Water Fund. For a county atlas project, the state contributes from 80% to 85% of the project's total cost. The county supplements the state funding by contributing to the MGS an amount based on the individual county's ability to pay. The maximum contribution from any participating county is $108,000. It is also possible for a county to make arrangements to contribute local services in lieu of some, or all, of the cash payment.

Both atlases and assessments are done to meet local needs for geologic, groundwater, and related information. Local committees help define the scope and products of each atlas project. Local groups provide input on project planning and have sponsored field trips and workshops.

Training and Education

people in a meeting

Training workshops and field trips are among the efforts to introduce the public to the geologic and groundwater conditions in the project area. Project staff instruct local staff and the public in how to use the maps and files at workshops that include practical problem-solving exercises.


User Assistance

For questions on the content or use of atlas or assessment reports, please contact:  

  • Geology and applications (Part A). Contact the MGS at 612-627-4780.
  • Groundwater and pollution sensitivity (Part B). Contact DNR Ecological and Water Resources staff listed below.

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DNR Ecological and Water Resources Staff

Central Office in St. Paul:

Southeastern Minnesota:

  • Jeff Green, Hydrogeologist, Southeast Minnesota Special Projects - Karst, 507-285-7429