The Private Well Pesticide Sampling (PWPS) Project is a follow-up testing program to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Township Testing Program. Homeowners in selected townships are offered the opportunity to first test their private drinking well for nitrate. If nitrate is detected in their first sample, homeowners are offered a follow-up pesticide test as part of the PWPS project. The testing is offered at no cost to the homeowner. Townships are selected based on the areas vulnerability to groundwater contamination and the amount of land in row crop production.
Counties and townships are selected using the techniques defined in the 2018 Project Work Plan. Please see the MDA Contact information below to request an electronic copy of the work plan.
2014-2015: Benton, Dakota, Morrison, Olmsted, Stearns, Sherburne, Wadena and Washington Counties
2016: Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne and Morrison Counties
2017: Becker, Benton, Dodge, Douglas, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Nobles, Rock, Todd and Winona Counties
2018: Clay, Fillmore, Goodhue, Rice and Wabasha Counties
2019: Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Chippewa, Chisago, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Faribault, Houston, Kanabec, La Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Nicollet, Pipestone, Polk, Scott, Steele, and Wright Counties
2020: Big Stone, Freeborn, Lac Qui Parle, Mower, Redwood, Swift, Traverse, Waseca, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine Counties
The information gained from this testing is valuable to the homeowner and Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The homeowner learns more about the current nitrate and pesticide conditions in their well. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture learns the localized nitrate and pesticide results to enable more informed local planning and decision-making to protect groundwater.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has evaluated the relationship between nitrate and pesticides in monitoring wells and in drinking water wells. In general, the probability of detecting pesticides in a well increases as nitrate concentration increases. When levels of nitrate are above 3 mg/L (ppm), there is a high likelihood that pesticides will be present. However, the relationship between nitrate and pesticide concentrations is less clear. Having a high concentration of nitrate in your water does not necessarily mean the pesticide concentration will also be high. It is also possible to have low, or no detectable nitrate in your water and still have pesticides present. Even though pesticide concentrations in groundwater rarely exceed drinking water standards in Minnesota, there are uncertainties about the health risks associated with consuming water that contains a mixture of pesticides and nitrate.
PWPS Project Results