Within the Mesabi-Vermilion Iron Range area, water of good quality is available from the Biwabik Iron-Formation, from stratified drift, and from lakes and streams. About 700 bgy (billion gallons a year) leaves the area as surface water, of which about one-third comes from ground water.
Leached, oxidized, and fractured parts of the Biwabik Iron-Formation yield as much as 1,000 gpm (gallons per minute) to wells. Much of the permeable stratified drift within the area underlies the Ice-Contact region and the Horainal and Ice-Contact region, and several wells drilled in drift have been pumped at rates of more than 1,000 gpm.
Parts of three major drainage basins lie within the area, and lakes compose about 5 percent of the area. Low-flow and flood-frequency data have been compiled for many of the streams. Large quantities of surface water are available from the Border-Lakes region and the Morainal and Ice-Contact region.
The quality of ground water from the Biwabik Iron-Formation and from the drift is similar. The water is generally moderately siliceous, hard or very hard, and contains much iron and manganese. Surface water is generally soft, contains much iron, and is highly colored.
Large uses of water in the area include: taconite processing (50 bgy), wash-ore processing (19 bgy), power plants (63 bgy), municipal water supplies (3 bgy) and paper processing (1 bgy). Optimum development of the water resources might be achieved by using streamflow in the spring and stunner and ground-water and surface-water storage in the fall and winter.
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