Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants in Minnesota's groundwater. The majority of Minnesota households have access to safe drinking water supplies. However, in areas vulnerable to groundwater contamination, some public and private wells have nitrate levels that exceed the health risk limit for nitrate. While elevated levels of nitrate in groundwater can result from several factors, a major contributor in rural Minnesota is nitrogen fertilizer that leaches past the crop root zone.

Our agency is responsible for nitrogen fertilizer use and management under the Groundwater Protection Act. To meet this need the MDA, in cooperation with a multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee and a public review process, developed a management plan.

Groundwater Protection Rule

The Groundwater Protection Rule minimizes potential sources of nitrate pollution to the state’s groundwater and protects our drinking water. The rule restricts fall application of nitrogen fertilizer in areas vulnerable to contamination, and it outlines steps to reduce the severity of the problem in areas where nitrate in public water supply wells is already elevated.

Minnesota Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan

The Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan is the state's blueprint for preventing or minimizing impacts of nitrogen fertilizer on groundwater.

Source Water Protection

"Source water" is the approved surface and groundwater that supplies a public drinking supply. Our agency worked with the Minnesota Department of Health to develop an interactive mapping application to illustrate where drinking water comes from. Individuals can find their drinking water source and the probability to which it may be impacted by potential contamination.