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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Water Protection > Drinking Water Protection

Drinking Water Protection


The protection of ground and surface water from which all of us get our drinking water from is an important health issue. Approximately 10 percent of Minnesota's 2400 community supply wells show at least some contamination resulting from human activities. Fortunately, most contaminant levels are below safe drinking water limits.

Land use activities and farming practices can have significant impacts on vulnerable aquifers. Homeowners in cities and towns can also have an impact on their drinking water supply. Protecting public water supply wells from contamination involves the cooperation of public water suppliers, state and local agencies, property owners, farmers, businesses, and the general public. In order to have a practical and effective plan, cooperation and involvement from all of these groups is important.

Wellhead Protection activities prevent well contamination by managing potential contaminant sources in the land area that contributes water to the well. Public water suppliers are required to develop Wellhead Protection Plans as stated in the Minnesota Groundwater Protection Act and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The Minnesota Department of Health is responsible for assuring the compliance of community water supply systems with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Components of Wellhead Protection plans include:

  • Isolation distances from contamination sources.
  • A map of the wellhead protection area.
  • A vulnerability assessment of the well and the protection area.
  • An inventory of potential contamination sources.
  • A plan to manage and monitor existing contamination sources.
  • An emergency response plan.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is the lead agency for all aspects of pesticide and fertilizer environmental and regulatory functions. These authorities are described in Minnesota Statutes 18B, 18C, 18D, and 103H.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has developed a number of resource materials to assist planners in managing potential agricultural contamination sources. These educational resources can assist Wellhead Protection planners to develop strategies that protect their water resources from potential non-point source contamination from fertilizer and pesticides. This web site provides copies of much of this information.

Drinking Water Protection Interactive Mapping 

Wellhead Protection Case Studies

Drinking Water Protection Series Fact Sheets

  1. Nitrogen Basics for Wellhead Protection Teams (PDF: 73 KB / 2 pages)
  2. Nitrate Contamination—What is the Cost? (PDF: 54 KB / 2 pages)
  3. The Importance of Crop Selection and Management for Controlling Nitrogen Losses (PDF: 65 KB / 2 pages)
  4. Promoting the Right Nitrogen Rate (PDF: 170 KB / 2 pages)
  5. Effectiveness of Nitrogen Best Management Practices (BMPs)—Irrigated Sands (PDF: 216 KB / 2 pages)
  6. Effectiveness of Nitrogen Best Management Practices (BMPs)—South Central Minnesota (PDF: 74 KB / 2 pages)
  7. Nutrient Management Planning Basics (PDF: 72 KB / 2 pages)

Resources for Wellhead Teams

Resources for Agricultural Advisors and Producers

MDA Contact

Bruce Montgomery
bruce.montgomery@state.mn.us
651-201-6178
Pesticide and Fertilizer Management Division