Letter to the Editor: Well water in Minnesota’s karst region is at risk!
Published 5:13 pm Friday, September 1, 2023
Southeastern Minnesota has a drinking water crisis that needs your help. Take action today to urge local, state, and federal government officials to take immediate action to ensure ALL Minnesotans, regardless of zip code, have clean water to drink.
Nitrate levels in the state’s karst region routinely exceeds safe drinking water standards, putting more than 380,000 area residents at serious risk. Private well owners are particularly vulnerable because they have no recourse to protect their water from pollution sources.
Nitrate-contaminated drinking water can lead to health problems including an increased risk for colorectal cancer, thyroid disease, and birth defects and low birth weight in infants.
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The leading cause of nitrate contamination is from industrial agriculture, in particular Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFOS), as well as monoculture row crop production. Industrial farming practices have proliferated across Minnesota in recent years causing nitrate levels to rise statewide. The pollution is particularly concerning in the karst region, where the unique geology of the land allows nitrogen spread on agricultural fields through manure and commercial fertilizer to rapidly infiltrate into groundwater used for drinking water by area residents.
Despite an acute awareness of the problem, state and local authorities have thus far failed to sufficiently address the crisis. That’s why Dodge County Concerned Citizens joined 10 other local and national environmental organizations in April to petition the federal Environmental Protection Agency to intervene. Organizational advocacy on this issue was an important first step, but it alone won’t get the job done. No one in this state should have to worry about what’s in their water. Officials at every level need to know that Minnesotans care deeply about this issue. Sign the petition our partner Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy created to add your voice to the growing call for immediate action: https://www.mncenter.org/petition-SE-MN-drinking-water