When will state, local officials unite to safeguard groundwater?


(3/21/2018)

From: Cherie Hales
Wiscoy Township

I read about Governor Dayton’s plan to lower nitrates in groundwater with some interest. I’ve been thinking about water quality lately because we recently got our second round testing results for nitrates and pesticides from Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

There was an article in the Post last May by Chris Rogers about the first round of testing. There were 940 wells tested in 13 townships in Winona county with 19 percent of them testing over the safe level for nitrates. In Fremont Township 54.8 percent of the wells tested were above the safe drinking level for nitrates; followed by Utica Township, 46.5 percent; St. Charles, 34.1 percent; and Warren, 28.3 percent. A table of results for all the townships tested is available on the Winona County SWCD website under “News and Highlights,” “Nitrate Levels in Private Wells.”

I feel fortunate that our well tested clean both times. But I find myself wondering about the 170-plus families whose wells tested as unsafe. Did the letter they received carry a warning about not drinking the water? Do they have to buy drinking water now? Drill a new well? Certainly there are negative health impacts from drinking water high in nitrates. Unsafe levels of nitrates in our groundwater is not a new problem in Winona County, and doesn’t seem to be improving over time.

Given the absolute necessity of clean drinking water, I can’t help but ask: when will our local and state officials initiate new ways to safeguard our groundwater supplies?

 

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