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The city has been looking at changes to Broadway for some time because of ongoing safety concerns, as well as the age of the roadway, and the city recently received federal funding to pay for a majority of the project if it effectively addresses the safety concerns.
Pedestrian safety is the largest issue. Broadway’s design, combined with driver behavior, has led to crashes that have resulted in severe injuries and deaths. Four-lane roads present significant challenges for pedestrians, and Broadway has consistent pedestrian traffic both downtown and east of Franklin Street.
Reducing a 4-lane road to 3 lanes is a common and affordable option for cities to balance multiple needs. It helps drivers maintain appropriate speeds, provides safer crossings for pedestrians, creates safer lanes for bicyclists, and creates larger and clearly marked shoulder/parking lanes for residents, delivery drivers, postal service workers, and other users.
Broadway’s traffic count has been studied, and this change is not expected to create any significant issues for drivers in terms of access or travel time.
The change would create easier and more accessible crossings throughout Broadway Street, as well as upgrades to ramps and sidewalks to comply with ADA standards.
The change would provide clear, marked bike lanes in both directions, which Broadway has not previously had.
This change would create a safer and more predictable environment for emergency responders, who would only have to navigate one lane of traffic instead of two.
Stantec and the City of Winona secured funding for the majority of project costs through federal grants. The Federal Highway Administrations awarded the project an "Innovation Grant" for $1 million and a "Transportation Alternatives Grant" for an additional $900,000, leaving about $1.3 million in costs - this would be covered through Minnesota state aid funds; no local tax dollars are expected to be used.
Winona is divided into four wards. Each ward is assigned a City Council Member, with two At-Large Council members that represent the entire City. You can find your Winona City Council member by where you live in the City of Winona. You can either view the Ward and Precinct Map (PDF) or check the Polling Place Finder to find your ward.
Each ward and precinct in the City of Winona has its own polling place. To find your polling place, please visit the Polling Place Finder website and enter your address.
The term for both the Mayor and City Council Members is four years.
All polling places in the City of Winona will be open from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Your polling place is located near your home. To find out the location of your polling place, visit the Polling Place Finder.
You can vote in the City of Winona if on Election Day you:
Before you can vote, you must register. You may register before Election Day or on Election Day at your polling place. Your registration remains current until you move, change your name, or do not vote for four consecutive years. You may also- pre-register in person, on-line, or sending the voter registration application in the mail to: County Auditor/Treasurer, 202 West Third Street, Winona, MN 55987. 507-457-8830
Pre-registration closes 21 days before each election. Newly Registered voters will receive a postcard notice indicating their polling place location.
Voters registering to vote on Election Day must provide proof of residence within the precinct. Any one of the following is authorized:
You can vote by absentee ballot if you are unable to vote in person on Election Day. Contact Winona County Auditor/Treasurer’s office for an application. They can be reached at 507-457-8830 or www.co.winona.mn.us
If you need assistance with voting, you can ask the election judges at the polling place. You can also ask a relative, friend, or neighbor to help you.
All polling places in Winona are fully accessible to elderly and disabled voters, with clearly marked accessible doors and parking spaces. Each polling place will be equipped with an accessible voting device for use by persons with disabilities. If you can't easily leave your car, you can ask for the ballot to be brought out to you in your car. If you are confined due to illness or disability, you can vote by absentee ballot.
One of the common reasons for high water bills is a toilet leaking. If a customer has a high water bill the water department will come to the customer’s residence to check for this problem, at no charge to the customer.
Winona is divided into three districts. The West End of Winona is district 1, the middle of town is district 2 and the East End of town is district 3. Customers in each district receive a water and sewer bill quarterly.
Every water bill includes a basic charge. Even if there is no water consumption, the basic charge will be on the bill. Sewer charges are based a percentage of the water bill.
To eliminate estimated water bills, an outside register can be installed, at no charge to the customer. An outside register allows the meter readers to submit an automatic reading without entering the residence. The yellow meter card left for the occupant to read the meter would also be eliminated.
City Ordinance, 22.17, allows for assessment of unpaid utility bills to a property. All water, sewer, and storm sewer bills remain with the property, not the person who incurred the expense.
Yes, the fire must be contained in an outdoor fireplace, barbeque, or noncombustible fire ring and you need to follow the appropriate requirements for open burning.
Open fire pits or rings are limited to 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height. They shall be located at least 100 feet from all structures and no more than 150 feet from a street or alley with a minimum width of 20 feet to allow for fire apparatus access.
Commercially manufactured fireplaces or fire rings may be used if they are equipped with a spark arresting screen that is in place during burning. They must be located at least 20 feet from an occupied structure and 10 feet from an unoccupied structure.
Only clean dry lumber and trees may be burnt. No painted, varnished or treated lumber or wood may be burnt. No litter, trash, garbage, leaves, paper, etc may be burnt. Burning these items is a violation of State law and City ordinance
How to Apply for Fire Extinguisher Public License, Certificates and Extinguishing System Certificates?
STEP 1: Plans conditionally approved by the State of Minnesota or a fire alarm plan reviewer approved by the City of Winona Fire Department are accepted. The Winona Fire Department will conditionally approve plans on the local level except those requiring State approval. The Winona Fire Department has the right not to approve plans at the local level.
All plans must include:
In addition to the requirements listed above, the following items that pertain to the design of the system per NFPA 2001 shall be indicated on the plans and or other system documentation specifications sheet.
The detail on the system shall include information and calculations on the amount of agent; container storage pressure; internal volume of the container; the location, type, and flow rate of each nozzle including equivalent orifice area; the location, size, and equivalent lengths of pipe, fittings, and hose; and the location and size of the storage facility. Pipe size reduction and orientation of tees shall be clearly indicated. Information shall be submitted pertaining to the location and function of the detection devices, operating devices, auxiliary equipment, and electrical circuitry, if used. Apparatus and devices used shall be identified. Any special features shall be adequately explained.
STEP 2: Complete the required application.
STEP 3: Permit /Acceptance Test Fee: $200.00
STEP 4: Send or drop off the completed application, two sets of plans, one set of electronic plans (PDF) format and Permit/Acceptance Test Fee of $200.00 to:
STEP 5: Installation of clean agent systems may begin after issuance of permit. Verbal notification for starting installation by the Fire Prevention Bureau may be granted before the permit is processed. Installation of clean agent systems prior to issuance of a permit or verbal authorization will result in Double Fees. Work shall be completed by certified personnel.
STEP 6: The installer of the clean agent system shall provide a minimum of two business days’ notice to the Fire Prevention Bureau prior to the performance of any inspection or test to the system.
STEP 7: The Fire Prevention Bureau will conduct an acceptance test of the system according to
NFPA 2001 standards.
Responsibilities of Clean Agent Extinguishing System Owners after system acceptance: Portions of buildings containing Clean Agent Extinguishing Systems whether required by this code or not, shall be maintained in good working order and tested by a qualified company as required by NFPA 2001. Records of this testing shall be located by the system control panel and be made available to the Fire Department upon request. The occupant or owner of a building shall notify the Fire Chief or Fire Department immediately when the building’s Clean Agent Extinguishing System is rendered out of service for any reason.
The installer of the Clean Agent Extinguishing System shall provide a minimum of two business days’ notice to the Fire Prevention Bureau prior to the performance of any inspection or test to the system. System monitoring shall be live at final inspection.
Commercial cooking fire protection systems are required in accordance with the current regulations adopted by the State of Minnesota found in the Minnesota Code.
Have a qualified contractor design and prepare a fire protection system plan for your kitchen. A qualified contractor can determine if the fire protection system complies with the applicable NFPA 17A and NFPA 96 codes on fire protection systems for commercial kitchens. Contact the Fire Prevention Bureau with any questions during the planning process.
· Scope of work.
· All property information (ie. Business Name, Address, Installer Contact and Phone Number).
· Graphical Information (ie. Scale, Points of Compass, Location within Building).
· Floor Plan.
· Show appliances under the hood and location of the protection nozzles (include information on type of appliance and its fuel supply).
· Location of Fusible Links and their respective Temperature.
· Class “K” Fire Extinguisher location.
· Location of Fuel Supply shut-off (ie. Gas Valve &/or Circuit Breaker).
· Location of Manual Pull Station.
STEP 1: Complete the required application.
STEP 2: Send or drop off the completed application, a hard copy of the plans, one set of electronic plans (PDF) format and Permit/Acceptance Test Fee of $150.00 to:
Applications must be received 10 business days prior to the installation of a commercial kitchen fire protection system. Installation of systems shall be performed only by persons properly trained and qualified to install the specific system being provided. Copies of this information shall be provided upon request.
STEP 3: The fire department shall witness a system trip testing prior to final acceptance by the Fire Department. The installer of the commercial cooking fire protection system shall provide a minimum of 2 business days’ notice to the Fire Prevention Bureau prior to the performance of any inspection or test to the system.
STEP 4: Installation of the commercial kitchen fire protection system may begin after issuance of permit. Verbal notification for starting installation by the Fire Prevention Bureau may be granted before the permit is processed.
STEP 5: Remember that all commercial cooking fire protection systems shall be periodically inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 1.
· Commercial Kitchen Fire Protection Systems must be inspected and serviced per the requirements found in NFPA 1 (Uniform Fire Code).
· Fusible links shall be replaced at least semi-annually or more frequently if necessary where required by the manufacturer. Fusible links must be tagged and show the date and installer initials.
· Exhaust systems must be cleaned by a properly qualified, trained and certified individual or company according to the table below:
NFPA 1, Table Schedule of Inspection for Grease Buildup
Type or Volume of Cooking Frequency Frequency
Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations Monthly
Systems serving high-volume cooking operations such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, or wok cooking Quarterly
Systems serving moderate volume cooking operations Semi-annually
Systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal businesses, or senior centers Annually
The installer of the commercial cooking fire protection system shall provide a minimum of two business days’ notice to the Fire Prevention Bureau prior to the performance of any inspection or test to the system. The final inspection and testing shall be completed as outlined in NFPA 96. TRIP TESTING is required at the final inspection.
Kitchen Fire Suppression System Permit Form
A building permit is required for all new:
For any questions, call Inspections at 507-457-8231 to verify.
The following work does not require a building permit:
Property lines can best be determined by calling a surveyor. Many surveyors are listed in the Winona Telephone Directory. The City of Winona does not mark property lines.
Questions about sidewalks are handled through the Engineering Department, 507-457-8269.
Questions about electrical permits or inspections can be obtained by contacting the State Electrical Inspector, Shannon Merchlewitz: 507-730-2349 . It’s best to call between 7 am to 8:30 am, Monday through Friday.
Questions about fire sprinklers are handled through the City of Winona Fire Department. They can be reached at 507-457-8266.
A $100 damage/maintenance deposit in the form of a check (personal or cashiers) is required for all rentals. No cash or credit cards accepted for damage deposit. If picking up a key for the reservation, the deposit is due at that time. If no key is needed, the deposit needs to be dropped off with the Park & Recreation Office a few days prior to the event date. There is a drop box located outside City Hall on the 4th Street side.
Special damage/maintenance deposit rates may apply for Levee Park, Parks, and Special Events: $250, $500, or $1,000. We will notify the renter if one of these amounts is required.
You may reserve a facility either on-line, over the telephone (507-457-8258), or in-person at the Parks and Recreation Department (207 Lafayette St, Winona, MN).
If the reservation is cancelled prior to (5) five business days of the event, a refund will be given minus a $20 processing charge. No refund will be given if the reservation is cancelled for any reason, including weather related cancellations, within (5) five business days of the event. No exceptions.
If renting an enclosed facility or a shelter that has electrical, there is a key the renter will need to pick-up at the Park & Recreation office. If renting an enclosed facility or a shelter that has electrical, there is a key the renter will need to pick-up at the Park & Recreation office. The key can be picked up before noon (12:00 pm) the day prior to the reservation date, or before noon (12:00 pm) on Friday for weekend rentals. To return the key, you may drop it off in the Parks and Recreation office or drop it off in the drop-box on the 4th Street side of the building. You will be contacted the week prior of the rental as a reminder to pick the key up.
Lodges are daily-use facilities only. There are no sleeping facilities available.
No staking devices are to be put in the ground for any reason (tents, inflatables, signs, etc.). Items must be weighted only. If damage occurs underground during the rental, the renter is responsible for damages.
Alcohol is not allowed in the East Recreation Center, Friendship Center, Bob Welch Aquatic Center, Lake Lodge Recreation Center, or Bud King Ice Arena.
No one is allowed to sell alcohol on City premises without appropriate permit(s). If there will be a beer keg on the premises, the renter must obtain a permit from the City Clerk's Office. This can be done after the renter has paid the damage/maintenance deposit with Park & Recreation.
Smoking is not allowed in any enclosed City facility. No glass containers of any kind are allowed.
The expectation is to clean-up the space like it was up on arrival. Broom, mop, and paper towels are provided at enclosed facilities. Cleaning supplies such as chemicals, soap, etc. must be provided by the renter. Please look over the space to make sure all doors and windows are locked, lights are off, water faucets are completely turned off and electrical breakers are locked.
Grilling is allowed with the renter’s personal grill. Please use caution with hot coals and allow to cool completely. No grills are available in the parks for sanitization reasons.
For situations that require emergent maintenance assistance on the weekends or after 3:00 pm Monday-Friday, please call the Winona Police Department Dispatch at 507-457-6492. They may need to call out maintenance staff if the renter is not able to gain access to the rental space, if there is an issue with the power/electrical, or if there are other maintenance emergencies that cannot wait until the next business day such as an overflowing toilet, water leaks, etc. Call-out fees may apply for non-emergency related items.
The renter may use items to decorate that are biodegradable or reusable. Absolutely no plastic flowers, petals, or confetti. No glitter, confetti, candles with a flame, or silly string allowed indoors. Any events/parties with small tickets and prizes must be cleaned up. No tape or nails to be used on the walls.
All rental spaces are available to you at the start of your rental permit time. Consider this as you plan your rental.
If needing to make changes to the reservation such as date, time, or location please contact the Park & Recreation Office at least (5) five business days prior to the event. A processing charge of $10 will be due at the time of each change.
There are no catering restrictions during your rental. It is the renter’s responsibility to coordinate their food pick up/drop off times with their caterer to coincide with their rental agreement terms and timelines. No food/drinks can be sold without a permit and City Council approval from the City Clerk’s office.
Please see each individual shelter/lodge facility information regarding amenities for each rental.
City permits are needed for the following items:
Any event request extended past pre-approved open or closure time (most facilities approved to run 8:00am to 10:00 pm)
*This list is not all-inclusive list of items requiring council approval*
If the event requires any special needs that have been preapproved by Council, contact should be made with the appropriate City staff/department at minimum one week prior to the event, Monday-Friday, 8am-Noon (12 pm).
The Lake Winona Bike Path is a 5.3 mile loop trail around the East and West Lakes in Winona that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking, running, inline skating, and cycling. Dogs are welcomed on the West Lake but not the East Lake.
East Lake: 3.7 milesWest Lake: 1.8 milesBoth Lakes not using Huff Street: 5.3 milesBridge by inlet to Vila Street: 0.4 miles
Professional offices in the residence of a physician, dentist, lawyer, etc. are allowed, with provisions. One such provision is that only one person that does not reside on the premises may be employed. Aside from licensed daycare facilities, the use shall be designed to serve only one client at a time. Also exclusive of licensed daycare facilities, not more than one half of the floor area of one floor of the principal dwelling shall be devoted to the professional use.
The professional use must be established in accordance with applicable local and state licensing requirements.
Customary home occupations, such as handicrafts, dressmaking, millinery, etc. are allowed, provided that such occupations shall be conducted exclusively by resident occupants and that no more than one quarter of the area of one floor of the dwelling shall be used for such purpose. There are several conditions:
The lowest part of any projecting sign that is located over any public or private walkway or within a radius of 30 feet of any intersecting curb shall be not less than 8 feet above the finished grade of the surface below it. Projecting signs shall not be permitted over any public alley and shall not project above the parapet line of the wall to which it is attached, or exceed 24 feet in height and measured from finished grade to the sign’s uppermost feature, whichever is lower. Projecting signs shall not extend to more than eight feet from a building or two feet from the inner curb line of the nearest street, whichever is less.
To determine whether your property is in a floodplain, call the Engineering Department at 507-457-8269. General flood and floodplain information may be obtained at the Federal Emergency Management Agency website. Flood insurance information can be found at the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
A pool may be installed on a residential property as long as it is at least 10 feet from any property line and that the pump and filter installations are at least 20 feet from any property line. A private swimming pool or the entire property on which it is located, shall be so walled or fenced as to prevent uncontrolled access by children from the street or from adjacent properties. If a corner lot is involved, more restrictions may apply.
Please call the Community Development Department at 507-457-8250 should you wish to install a pool.
Permits are not required for putting up a fence. Property lines should be determined by a surveyor. Fences may be placed up to but not on the property line. On street sides, fences must be at least one foot back from the sidewalk. Fences may be up to six feet high in the back yard (non street side) and up to four feet high in the front yard or street sides of a lot. Placing the “nice” side toward the neighboring lot is a courtesy to neighbors, however, there is no code to require this practice.
If you live on a corner lot, you are subject to additional fence regulations and should call the Community Development Department at 507-457-8250 before installing a fence.
The only accurate way to determine a property boundary is to hire a professional land surveyor to perform a survey of your property. The city does not provide surveying services.
Recreation vehicles should be stored inside an enclosed structure that conforms to the district’s zoning requirements or outside in a side or rear yard behind the required front yard setback. If this space is not available for your recreational vehicle, please call the Community Development Department at 507-457-8250. Parked vehicles may not be used for living, sleeping, or housekeeping purposes while stored. The vehicle shall be at all times mobile and not be permanently fixed to the ground in a manner that would prevent removal.
Minimum lot sizes and street frontages must exist before a subdivision would be allowed. To determine if your property could be subdivided please call the Community Development Department at 507-457-8250.
The sign code regulates advertising based on the zoning district and street frontage of a property. Properties in more intensive zoning districts with larger street frontages are allowed more signage than smaller, less intensively zoned properties.
Please call the Community Development Department at 507-457-8250 to determine the allowable sign size, height and setback requirement for your property or refer to Section 43.43 in the Winona City Code.
Please call the Community Development Department at 507-457-8250 with the property address or tax parcel number and we will verify the zoning on any property in Winona.
Generally, off-street parking cannot be provided in front yards, or in side yards adjacent to a side street. Parking is permitted in driveways that lead directly to an off-street parking area (e.g., garage).
Cars cannot be parked in a manner that blocks sidewalks.
Contact the Planning Division with any questions.
Public water does not exist in the immediate area. A sand point well would require electricity for a submersible pump; it is neither feasible to drill through the flood control wall nor trench the 1/2 mile distance to the nearest accessible electrical connection on the same side of the flood control wall. It is recommended to bring water for your dog.
The City has examined a rainwater container or other types of portable water tanks but the concept of communal water is discouraged by the American Kennel Club and many other experts because of the health risks posed due to infectious diseases and parasites. Rodents urinate/defecate in the bowls and other hazards become present under the hot sun which can lead to the possibility of intestinal worms, giardia, leptospirosis, canine flu…even salmonella can be shared through communal water. The dog bowls that regularly show up at the park are not provided by the City and the use of the bowls is highly discouraged.
The safest practice for your precious animal is to bring water in a clean, portable container that is not shared with other dogs when you visit the park.
Call the Tree Crew at 507-457-8281 to find out what species will work in the space. Before planting, call Gopher State One-Call, 800-252-1166, to have them locate underground lines or pipes so that you can safely dig.
The city’s tree crew trims trees in parks and boulevard areas. To request removal of a broken branch or diseased tree, call 507-457-8281 and leave a detailed message. It is the property owner’s responsibility to water the tree.
Xcel Energy hires licensed tree trimmers to trim trees under or near power lines in order to provide safe clearance. The amount of clearance depends on the type of line.
The first thing you should do when the sewer is backing up in your facility is call the sewer department at 507-457-8207. If there is no response at that number call the Law Enforcement Center at 507-454-6100 and they will call out a crew to the address.
Sewer gas can enter a building when the water in a trap in the building evaporates. All fixtures that are connected to the sewer system must have traps on them. The water that is normally retained in the trap forms a barrier to the migration of gases.
Never sewer anything that is highly flammable or explosive. Never allow mercury, or other toxic materials, to enter the sewer. Most potentially dangerous chemicals have labels, Material Safety Data Sheets, or accompanying literature that states whether or not the material is sewerable. Follow those instructions when they are given.
If the literature advises you to call the local sewer authority for permission to sewer a given material, please call us at 507-457-8207.
If there is any question in your mind as to whether or not you should sewer something, do not sewer the material without talking to us first. Thinking carefully before sewering materials will help to protect public safety, prevent upsets at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, and protect the water quality of the Mississippi River. Think about the potential danger of sewering a substance that will produce a dangerous gas in light of the fact that the atmosphere in the City sewer lines can migrate into facilities under certain conditions.
The water supplied to the city comes from deep and shallow wells located in Levee Park and the Westfield well field. The depths of these wells are from 142 feet to 502 feet in depth. The exception to this is the Wincrest area that has two wells that are 1,070 feet deep.
The water is chlorinated to kill any micro-organisms and bacteria that may be present. The Minnesota Department of Health requires us to sample at a minimum of 30 locations throughout the city at least once a month and send them to an independent lab for testing. If a positive sample shows up then there is a retest, if positive again a notice is sent to all residents telling them to boil the water till the problem is resolved.
Water is considered safe to drink if it came from a natural source (river, lake, spring, groundwater) and it meets or is better than all of the federal, state, and provincial standards that are legally enforceable. In the United States, if your tap water does not meet any one of the standards, according to the law, your water supplier must notify all its customers as of the problem. Water is called potable when it is safe to drink. "Potable" rhymes with "floatable".
The State mandates us to add fluoride to the water which we do at the Johnson Street Plant, Westfield Plant, and the Wincrest Wells.; We take a sample daily of the fluoride level and a monthly report is sent to the Minnesota Department of Health to show compliance with state laws.
The hardness of the water is 14 grains or 220 Parts per Million (PPM).
The water being pumped out of the Johnson Street and Westfield Plants is being filtered at this time. There are a few reasons that your water may be discolored. If there was a fire in your area often times this will make the water discolored because of a large demand for water going through the water mains. You may have a service leak which will discolor the water. We flush the water mains in the spring and fall, this will cause discolored water.
There are many reasons to have a water bill higher than normal. You may have a leaky toilet (the number one cause), out side faucet was left on, water softener not working properly, other water related appliances not working properly. Also if you do not have a newer style water meter that can be read from the outside of your home we may not have been able to get an actual reading. This will result in an estimated reading and we would not be able to determine if you have a leak in that three month period.
Please contact us if you need to have a newer style meter installed in your residence. This will guarantee that the water will be read every quarter. The Water Department will gladly come to your residence to help you in any way that we can.
The water department reads water meters every month. The city is divided into three sections so that your water meter is read every third month.
We currently have about 90 to 95% of the meters changed to the new Electronic Encode Register (ECR) type meter. With ECR we are able to read these meters by touching the small box we attach to the outside of your home. If you don’t now have one of these types please call our office and we can set up an appointment to change your meter to a new one. This will mean that every quarter we can get an actual reading for your water usage and not have to estimate your usage on your water bill.
One cubic foot of water is equal to 7.48 gallons, one hundred cubic feet of water is equal to 748 gallons.
The pipe is the "stop box" for your water service. There is a valve under ground on your water line that is accessed with a special wrench through this pipe.
In an emergency situation (water flooding your basement) this is where your plumber or the water department would turn off the water to your home. If this pipe is bent, broken, or filled with dirt then the water may not be able to be shut off in time to prevent flooding of the basement. This "stop box" is the home owner’s responsibility to keep in good operating condition.
It appears that you may have a service leak. The piping to your home may have broken and the water is flowing out into the ground (the noise you hear). The low pressure is because not all the water is coming into your home but leaking out at the break.
This should be addressed immediately since the water leaking into the ground may start flowing into your basement or your neighbors’ basement resulting in property damage. If this is the case call the Water Department or the Law Enforcement Center after hours for help.
Your water meter is where the water service first enters your home. This meter is designed with a frost plate that will break when water in the meter freezes. This is to prevent further damage to the rest of the meter. We suggest that you eliminate all cold drafts in the area of the meter and other piping. In the case of services that are notorious for freezing we suggest to let a small stream of water flowing through the pipes during the colder part of winter.
We do give tours of the Water Plant to many school classes through out the year and would be happy to show you our operations here. Please get in touch with us and we will try to help.
Groundwater is the water that fills the small spaces between rock particles (sand, gravel, etc.) or cracks in solid rock. Rain, melting snow, or surface water becomes groundwater by seeping into the ground and filling these spaces. The top of the water-saturated zone is called the “water table.” When water seeps in from the surface and reaches the water table, it begins moving towards points where it will either flow vertically to a deeper aquifer layer or it will flow horizontally to a place where it can escape, such as wells, rivers, or lakes.An aquifer is any type of geologic material, such as sand or sandstone, which can supply water to wells or springs. Some areas may have multiple aquifers at different depths, if the local geology contains several layers of sand or bedrock that can store and transmit water. Contrary to popular belief, an aquifer is usually not an “underground river.” A better analogy is that an aquifer is an underground sponge, with water stored in the pore spaces between grains of rock or sand. Wells work by extracting water from those pore spaces and pumping that water to the land surface.
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:
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:
The City of Winona has also identified private wells that fall within the wellhead protection area. A side benefit of the Wellhead Protection Plan is that it not only protects the municipal water supply wells, but it will also help protect private wells.
Private well owners are encouraged to obtain educational information about how to best manage their wells. The Minnesota Department of Health has a website that contains much useful information for well owners including a Well Owner’s Handbook.
If you are interested in having the water in your private well tested, more information can be found at the Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District’s website
If you currently have a well on your property that is not being used, you are required by law to seal that well or obtain a special permit to keep it open. If you need to seal your well, it must be done by a well contractor licensed in the State of Minnesota. There are numerous grant and cost-share opportunities to pay for well sealing costs. Contact Winona’s Public Works Department (507) 457-8269 for more information on possible upcoming well sealing grants.
Household hazardous wastes can be a source of contamination to local water bodies and groundwater when they are improperly handled or disposed of. The City of Winona encourages all residents to utilize Winona County’s Environmental Services for disposal of waste products.
Residential Turf Applications
Another potential source of contamination to local water bodies and groundwater supplies is from the over-application of fertilizers and other lawn/garden chemicals. Not only do these materials pollute local waterways, but excessive application is both unnecessary and costly to home owners. While it is unlikely that no single residential property is entirely responsible for contamination to local waters, the cumulative impacts of hundreds of properties applying excessive fertilizers can be detrimental to the local environment.
The University of Minnesota’s website contains useful information about lawn fertilization.
By following these guidelines, residential property owners can work together to ensure that our local waters are safe and clean for future generations to enjoy.