Most cities in the State of Minnesota obtain their drinking water from underground aquifers. The City of Winona owns and operates eight large capacity water supply wells. These wells draw water from groundwater aquifers located 400-110000 feet underground. Despite these depths, the groundwater aquifers that serve the Winona wells are vulnerable to contamination from human activities at the land surface. Because it is cheaper to prevent contamination than it is to treat contaminated water, Winona is looking for help from its residents to protect our water supply aquifers.
Wells can become polluted when substances that are harmful to human health get into the groundwater. Water from these wells can be dangerous to drink when the level of pollution rises above health standards. The City of Winona regularly samples the water from their wells and provides an annual Consumer Confidence Report to residents. The most recent report can be located on the City of Winona’s website.
There are many ways that groundwater can become contaminated. Here are some common examples of contamination sources:
- A storage tank develops a leak and drains its contents into the soil
- Contaminants enter an old, unsealed well and drain into the aquifer
- A septic system is not properly maintained
- Residents over apply lawn and garden chemicals
- Hazardous wastes are not properly stored or disposed of
- Spills occur along roadways or other transportation routes
The City of Winona is working with citizens to protect drinking water supplies by implementing our Wellhead Protection Plan. This plan has been prepared in conjunction with several local, county and state agencies. The Minnesota Department of Health is the lead agency for the State’s program and will assist communities with defining wellhead protection areas and developing plans to protect wells.
What Can You Do?
In order for the Wellhead Protection Plan to be successful, the citizens of Winona need to remain environmentally aware. There are several steps that you can take to help our planning efforts succeed:
- Help identify land uses and possible sources of contamination on your property (wells, tanks, septic systems, hazardous wastes, etc.)
- Make sure any potential sources of contamination under your control meet local, state, and federal regulations
- Use hazardous products only as directed and dispose of them properly when done
- Practice proper turf management techniques and avoid over-fertilization of your lawn
- Seal any unused wells on your property, according to Minnesota Well Code
- Conserve water whenever possible
- Report any spills or illegal dumping you observe to local law enforcement.
- Cooperate with groundwater protection efforts