Groundwater Protection Recommendations Report

Groundwater provides nearly 75% of Minnesotans with their primary source of drinking water, as estimated by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Contamination can limit access to safe and reliable supplies. Monitoring of Minnesota's groundwater by state agencies has found that activities on the land have contaminated our more vulnerable, surficial aquifers with nitrate, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chloride, pesticides, contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), perfluorochemicals (PFCs), and viruses. In addition, naturally occurring contaminants are also found in Minnesota's groundwater in certain geologic settings. These contaminants include arsenic, manganese, and radium. As identified in Minnesota's Clean Water Roadmap report, nitrate (human-caused) and arsenic (naturally occurring) are two contaminants prevalent in Minnesota's groundwater. Concentrations of these two chemicals sometimes exceed drinking water standards in the state's groundwater. In recommending strategies and actions to protect groundwater degradation from contaminants, it is important to remember that groundwater and surface waters are part of a single, interconnected hydrological system. So while monitoring, assessment, and protection approaches and techniques may vary between groundwater, lakes, streams, and wetlands, these water resources should not be viewed in isolation from each other. This Minnesota Groundwater Protection Recommendations Report provides a contaminant-by-contaminant summary of the current status and efforts to prevent and minimize contaminant impacts on groundwater quality, followed by recommendations to improve these efforts so that Minnesotans have safe and reliable sources of drinking water. The report focuses primarily on recommended activities to address human-caused contaminants, followed by continued efforts needed to avoid tapping groundwater that contains naturally occurring contaminants. The report also recommends actions to help advance our understanding of Minnesota's complex and varied hydrogeology, and groundwater-surface water interactions. The report recommends actions to continue building groundwater protection capability among government, the private sector, and landowners. All Minnesotans have a stake in sustaining healthy groundwater for drinking, for our economy, and for the integrity of natural systems that support life.
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Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
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Creative Commons