DNR Q & A: How can I identify a freshwater spring?

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources field staff, resource managers and the DNR Information Center staff answer many questions every day about natural resources topics. Here is one of them:


Q. I heard the DNR is gathering a list of springs across the state. How will I know a spring when I see one, and how can I report the location?​

A.  A spring is a focused natural discharge of flowing groundwater. Some telltale clues are: they usually remain unfrozen in winter, they can seem unusually cold in summer, and they are often associated with plants such as watercress and willows. Some springs appear to “boil” the surface of lakes and streams.

Historically, springs were important sources of drinking water. They also provide critical habitat for trout streams by regulating water temperature and providing base flows to streams throughout the year. An inventory of Minnesota’s springs is being prepared by combing through old records, and more will be added by searching likely areas of the state. To learn more about springs, or to share the location of a spring near you, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/waters/groundwater_section/pilot/springshed.html.

— Greg Brick,
DNR research analysis specialist


For more information, call the DNR information line at 296-6157 or go to the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

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