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.