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Even in region with abundant water, residents turn to bottles and try to conserve

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Lewiston, Minn. — Fast-moving water in southeast Minnesota, a region of rolling hills and caves, bluffs and valleys and hundreds of miles of freshwater trout streams, helps create an abundant groundwater supply. In some areas, it’s just 10 to 20 feet below the surface.

That’s a good thing for the 11 counties that get all of their drinking water from the ground, instead of rivers or lakes. But it also means nitrate contamination from fertilizer applied by area farmers happens fast in the aquifers closest to the surface.

As a result, some communities are being forced to take steps — sometimes costly ones — to both tap and protect their groundwater.

Budget cuts hit Greater Minn. senior food programs

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Lewiston, Minn. — Driven by federal budget cuts, groups next week will close three dozen of the state’s 502 congregate meal sites. Most of those closing are in Greater Minnesota. The Southeast Minnesota Community Action Agency will shut four of its 57 dining sites on Tuesday, including lunch in Lewiston.

Agencies and individual providers have made alternative arrangements for seniors, including converting many to home-delivered meals, said Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging.

In Rochester, squeezed by health care costs despite the overhaul

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Rochester, Minn. — Health plan options through MNsure, the state’s insurance exchange, vary across Minnesota.

In some parts of the state, people can choose from numerous health plans with a variety of price tags. But in southeastern Minnesota, Rochester stands as the one part of the state where prices are high and options are few.

Now, many Rochester residents are starting to realize how being home to the Mayo Clinic affects health care costs across the region.

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