Changes to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website are coming soon.In order to see future content, please update your browser. More information.
Locally-led Projects to Protect Groundwater
Central Sands Summary 2014 (PDF: 447 KB / 2 pages)
Central Sands Summary 2013 (PDF: 427 KB / 2 pages)
Central Sands Summary 2012 (PDF 517 KB / 2 pages)
Central Sands Summary Report 2011 (PDF 834 KB / 16 pages)
Central Sands Private Well Network - 2011 Appendix 1 (PDF 483 KB / 16 pages)
Becker, Benton, Cass, Crow Lake, Douglas, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena
The monitoring network is distributed across 14 counties. Selection of individual wells was random, and results from this program can be used to make conclusions about nitrate trends in drinking water across the region.
When a well owner agreed to participate, they filled out a survey about their well (construction type, well depth, age, etc) and returned it. Each participant received a sample kit from a certified lab with instructions on how to take the sample and where to send it for analysis.
Summary of 2011 Results: Read the 2011 Summary Report (PDF: 635 KB / 16 pages) to learn more!
Nitrate is a water soluble molecule that is made up of nitrogen and oxygen. It is naturally occurring in the environment; however at elevated levels it can have negative effects on human health. According to a 2007 Minnesota Pollution Control report, nitrate is one of most common contaminants in Minnesota's groundwater, and in some areas of the state a significant number of wells have high nitrate levels (Minnesota's Ground Water Condition: A Statewide View, MPCA 2007). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established a drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 mg/L for nitrate-nitrogen (U.S. EPA, 2009).
Although nitrate occurs naturally, it can also originate from man-made sources such as fertilizer, animal manure and human waste.
Regions of Minnesota most vulnerable to nitrate contamination are central and southeastern Minnesota. Central Minnesota counties are vulnerable because of widespread sandy soil and regions of southeast Minnesota are vulnerable because of shallow bedrock, sinkholes and underground caves (referred to as karst geology), which lead to exchanges between surface and ground water resources.
Between 1993 and 2006, the MDA operated "walk in" style water testing clinics with the goal of increasing public awareness about nitrates in rural drinking and livestock water supplies. The clinics offered free nitrate analysis and provided immediate results to homeowners.
This accurate, yet inexpensive water testing procedure has provided nitrate analysis and educational outreach to over 50,000 well owners.
The MDA has trained many local partners to operate nitrate testing clinics. Equipment and training are available for any community that would like to offer testing services. This procedure is adaptable for county fairs, field day events, public school programs, and "stand alone" events.
In 2011, the MDA helped 40 Local Government Units host nitrate testing clinics. A total of 2,100 water samples were tested. This information will be updated soon to reflect plans for the summer of 2013.
County Partners: Becker, Benton, Cass, Crow, Douglas, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena
**Wadena County Soil and Water Conservation District is the lead local project coordinator.
Additional Partners: Minnesota Center for Survey Research, RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.
Kimberly.Kaiser@state.mn.us ~ 651-201-6280
Fertilizer Unit Supervisor
Bruce.Montgomery@state.mn.us ~ 651-201-6178
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), 625 Robert Street N, St. Paul, MN 55155-2538, email@example.com