MNWOO requests the Commissioner Laura Bishop of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to complete a Drinking Water Safety Plan for the Southeast Minnesota Karst Region in Groundwater Province 1.

“Data from private wells, public water supplies and from our springs, rivers and streams has shown that nitrates have been threatening our water resources for more than five decades.  Almost everyone agrees that safe drinking water in the karst region of SE Minnesota is being impaired and both private and community water systems are under a continuing and ongoing threat.  The Minnesota Well Owners Organization is concerned that Minnesota has no action plan to protect, enhance or restore our groundwater and we have no effective plans to stop the pollution or to assure proper water treatment for the rural households who live on the karst.


Recent proposals for new feedlots and feedlot expansion have forced our communities to action to protect the groun water.  Private well owners in both Filmore and Winona Counties are relieved that new contamination sources have been rejected.  Now many farmers and agri-business interests are also concerned that there is no plan to protect the drinking water in our region; many are worried that even good farm operators are being painted as bad actors.  More and more people in SE MN understand that everyone will be harmed if the drinking water is spoiled.


Commissioner Bishop:  Thank you for your interest in helping rural SE Minnesota with our drinking water challenges. We all seem to agree that nitrate contamination of groundwater is a problem that needs to be addressed.  We also understand that safe water starts at the kitchen sink, not at the aquifer.  Whenever a water system is broken, a well is poorly constructed and contaminated, or a recharge area is over fertilized, the drinking water will not be safe and our rural households are at risk.


When you rely on a private well you also recognize that the responsibility for drinking water protection starts at the kitchen sink and extends to the local ethanol plant and feedlot.  But well owners cannot effectively manage all the risks.  When we have hidden water systems, wells, aquifers and recharge areas covered with row crops we all need help managing the water.  Our entire region needs practical information on how best to protect our drinking water.


MNWOO is proposing a direct approach to actions that protect our household drinking water in the karst region: Complete a Karst Region Drinking Water Safety Plan.


MNWOO is advocating that the scope of the proposed Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Nitrates on the Karst includes a proposed action plan.  Please read the attached documents that summarize our request.  We believe that you will agree that Drinking Water Safety Plans would be one of the most effective ways to address our drinking water concerns on the karst.


Thank you in advance for your consideration, and thank you for your concerns for our drinking water.


What is a Drinking Water Safety Plan? – A Drinking Water Safety Plan focuses on water at the household tap, and assesses the risks to water safety at every stage of a water supply chain from the distribution, treatment and storage systems, to the wells, aquifers and recharge areas at the source of water in a water well. A Drinking Water Safety Plan tunes monitoring and management to local circumstances and addresses the risks to drinking water quantity, quality, continuity, coverage and cost. Such an action-oriented approach is already used around the world. Safe water at the source does not guarantee safe water at the tap so the entire water pathway and all the intervening risks are evaluated and addressed. The Drinking Water Safety Plan first assesses water quality at the tap, then develops a plan to keep the water safe. Water testing is the starting point for an assessment that follows the water back through the delivery system, the wells, the reservoirs or aquifers all the way back to the recharge areas for the source water. The action plan is also delivered through a systematic and transparent process. Minnesota Well Owners Organization is a participant on the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for the University of Minnesota Water Resource Center and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on a project funded by the Minnesota Department of Health titled “The Future of Minnesota Drinking Water”

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