Minnesota's Legacy

Private Well Protection

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$750,000
2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$400,000
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$400,000
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$325,000
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$325,000
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$325,000
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Recipient
Minnesota Department of Health
Recipient Type
State Government
Status
In Progress
Start Date
July 2013
Activity Type
Analysis/Interpretation
Assessment/Evaluation
Education/Outreach/Engagement
Grants/Contracts
Research
Counties Affected
Statewide
Statewide
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2019, Chp. 2, Art. 2, Sec. 8 (d)
Appropriation Language

$750,000 the first year and $750,000 the second year are for studying the occurrence and magnitude of contaminants in private wells and developing guidance, outreach, and interventions to reduce risks to private-well owners.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$750,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
3
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Assess whether radium is commonly found in private well water at unsafe levels.
  • Assess whether there are additional contaminants that should be evaluated due to their potential presence and hazard in private well water.
  • Determine what, if anything, should happen next based on findings from the arsenic sampling survey and arsenic concentration predictive mapping.
  • Pilot approaches for promoting well testing and financial assistance for mitigation.
  • Equip local partners to promote private well testing and mitigation when necessary.
  • Promote private well testing.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017, Chp. 91, Art. 2, Sec. 8 (e)
Appropriation Language

$400,000 the first year and $400,000 the second year are for studying the occurrence and magnitude of contaminants in private wells and developing guidance and outreach to reduce risks to private-well owners.

2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$400,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
3
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Start assessing whether radium is commonly found in private well water at unsafe levels.
  • Assess whether there are additional contaminants that should be evaluated due to their potential presence and hazard in private well water.
  • Equip local partners to promote private well testing and mitigation when necessary.
  • Promote private well testing.
  • Pilot approaches for promoting well testing.
Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Developed the radium sampling plan and started sampling for gross alpha.
  • Developed and distributed a communications toolkit for water testing laboratories to promote private well testing.
  • Working in partnership with Choose Safe Places Minnesota to train childcare providers on private well testing.
  • Collaborating with Becker County Soil and Water Conservation District to promote private well testing in Becker and Otter Tail counties.
  • Created YouTube videos about private well testing, inspecting, and sealing and how to protect a private well before a flood.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
MN Law 2017, Chapter 91, Article 2, Section 8(e)
Appropriation Language

$400,000 the first year and $400,000 the second year are for studying the occurrence and magnitude of contaminants in private wells and developing guidance and outreach to reduce risks to private-well owners.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$400,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
1
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Finish statistical analysis for data.
  • Present study results at state and national conferences.
  • Publish two journal articles, one is accepted for publication in Groundwater journal in March 2018.
Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Results of the statistical analysis are as follows:
    • Filtering can make a significant difference in samples that were elevated then reduced in arsenic concentration a year later.
    • Arsenic concentrations stabilize 3 to 6 months after well construction.
    • Collecting samples at least 6 months after the well is drilled will give a more representative result of the long-term concentration.
    • Collection of samples from plumbing rather than from the drill rig will give a more representative result.
    •  Arsenic concentrations will not necessarily decrease with time, half the time it may increase a year later.
    • Recommendation is for the homeowner to collect one more arsenic sample in the life of the well to verify the arsenic result, once the well has stabilized, at least 6 months afterward.
  • Presented the study's results at the Geological Society of America in Seattle, WA in October 2017
  • The National Groundwater Association accepted the arsenic variability article and can be viewed online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gwat.12643/full.
  • Will present the study’s results at the Geological Society of America – North-Central Section, 52nd Annual Meeting in Ames, Iowa in April 2018
Legal Citation / Subdivision
MN Law 2015 Chapter 2 Article 2 Section 8(e)
Appropriation Language

$325,000 the first year and $325,000 the second year are for studying the occurrence and magnitude of contaminants in private wells and developing guidance to ensure that new well placement minimizes the potential for risks in cooperation with the commissioner of agriculture.

2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$325,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
1
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

• Finish collecting the final 12-month water samples.
• Perform statistical analysis on data.
• Continue to track arsenic concentrations in new wells for a year after they are constructed to see if water chemistry stabilizes.
• Determine how water sampling methods and the timing of sample collection contribute to arsenic test results in a new well.
• Identify the conditions that control arsenic occurrence in groundwater.

Measurable Outcome(s)

• Collected 109 water samples 12 months after the initial water samples were collected.
• Started statistical analysis.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
MN Law 2015 Chapter 2 Article 2 Section 8(e)
Appropriation Language

$325,000 the first year and $325,000 the second year are for studying the occurrence and magnitude of contaminants in private wells and developing guidance to ensure that new well placement minimizes the potential for risks in cooperation with the commissioner of agriculture.

Number of full time equivalents funded
1
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

• Finish all water sample collection.
• Perform statistical analysis on data.
• Track arsenic concentrations in new wells for a year after construction to see if water chemistry stabilizes.
• Study how water sampling methods and the timing of collecting water samples contribute to arsenic test results in a new well.
• Study the conditions that control arsenic occurrence in groundwater.
• Develop guidance for well contractors and private well owners to reduce risks from arsenic in well water.

Measurable Outcome(s)

• Collected an additional 129 initial water samples for new wells, for a total of 254 wells.
• Collected 252 water samples 3-6 months after the initial water samples were collected.
• Collected 136 water samples 12 months after the initial water samples were collected.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
MN Law 2013 Chapter 137 Article 2 Section 8(e)
Appropriation Language

$325,000 the first year and $325,000 the second year are for studying the occurrence and magnitude of contaminants in private wells and developing guidance to ensure that new well placement minimizes the potential for risks in cooperation with the commissioner of agriculture.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$325,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
1
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

• Track arsenic concentrations in new wells for a year after construction to see if water chemistry stabilizes.
• Sample 125 newly constructed private water-supply wells by June 2015.
• Determine how water sampling methods and the timing of collecting water samples contribute to arsenic test results in a new well.
• Identify the conditions that control arsenic occurrence in groundwater.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Sampled 162 newly constructed private water-supply wells.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
MN Law 2013 Chapter 137 Article 2 Section 8(e)
Appropriation Language

$325,000 the first year and $325,000 the second year are for studying the occurence and magnitude of contaminiants in private wells and developing guidance to ensure that new well placement minimizes the potential for risks in cooperation with the commissioner of agriculture.

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$325,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
1
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Sample 200 - 205 newly constructed private water-supply wells by July 2015.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Sampled 19 newly constructed private water-supply wells.

Project Overview

This project aims to ensure private wells are a safe source of drinking water, are tested regularly, and water quality issues are addressed.

Minnesota Department of Health collaborates with other state agencies, the U.S. Geological Survey, and local partners to promote private well testing and mitigation when necessary. This funding also makes it possible to conduct studies to better understand the distribution of contaminants in Minnesota well water and develop strategies to reduce private well users’ exposure to those contaminants.

About the Issue

About 21 percent of Minnesotans (1.2 million people) get their drinking water from a private well. Private wells are not regulated beyond the construction of the well and an initial water quality test for coliform bacteria, nitrate, and arsenic. Private well users are responsible for regularly testing, inspecting, protecting, and sealing their private well. If a water test shows the private well does not meet drinking water standards for contaminants, the private well user is responsible for determining if and how they will reduce their exposure to the contaminant through treatment or using a different water source. Private well users are responsible for all costs associated with testing and treating their drinking water. This program is intended to understand and address potential health risks for those 1.2 million Minnesotans drinking water from private wells so that all Minnesotans, regardless of where their water comes from, have access to safe drinking water.

Project Manager
First Name
Chris
Last Name
Elvrum
Organization Name
Minnesota Department of Health
Street Address
625 Robert Street North
City
St. Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155-2538
Phone
651-201-4598
Email
chris.elvrum@state.mn.us