Township Testing Program

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$316,998
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$350,441
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Recipient
Multiple SWCD and County Partners
Recipient Type
Local/Regional Government
Status
In Progress
Start Date
July 2013
End Date
June 2018
Activity Type
Monitoring
Technical Assistance
Counties Affected
Benton
Dakota
Morrison
Olmsted
Otter Tail
Pope
Sherburne
Stearns
Wadena
Washington
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013, Chapter 137, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2013: (b) $2,500,000 the first year and $2,500,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrates in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation, including a substantial increase of monitoring of private wells in cooperation with the commissioner of health, monitoring for pesticides when nitrates are detected, and promoting and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices to protect groundwater from degradation.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$316,998
Administration costs
$0
Number of full time equivalents funded
see "Statewide Groundwater and Drinking Water Protection"
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Measurable outcomes are reported in fiscal year 2014

Measurable Outcome(s)

In 2015, the MDA plans to test wells in townships located in Otter Tail County (32), Pope County (6), Morrison County (second round 5) and Sherburne County.* The number in parenthesis indicates the number of townships per county.

Description of Funds
The funds listed on this page are provided to local partners through Joint Powers Agreements (JPA). JPAs have been established with Pope County ($23,854), Otter Tail County ($173,677) and Sherburne County ($111,537). An additional $8,200 was spent on equipment to support local groundwater monitoring and testing activities.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013, Chapter 137, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2013: (b) $2,500,000 the first year and $2,500,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrates in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation, including a substantial increase of monitoring of private wells in cooperation with the commissioner of health, monitoring for pesticides when nitrates are detected, and promoting and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices to protect groundwater from degradation.

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$350,441
Administration costs
$0
Number of full time equivalents funded
see "Statewide Groundwater and Drinking Water Protection"
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

• Number of groundwater sensitive agricultural townships that have been characterized through MDA’s Township Testing approach for implementing the NFMPThe MDA’s target is to  offer nitrate testing to 70,000 private well owners, within approximately 250 townships, over the next six years. This work will be done in partnership with local governments across the state.

Measurable Outcome(s)

A total of 58 townships in eight counties have been sampled to date (2013-2014). Counties that have participated include Benton (3), Morrison (6), Wadena (4), Dakota (9, second round 5) , Stearns (14), Sherburne (5), Olmsted (11) and Washington (1). * The number in parenthesis indicates the number of townships per county.

Description of Funds
The funds listed on this page are provided to local partners through Joint Powers Agreements (JPA). JPAs have been established with Dakota County ($75,768), Stearns County ($138,000), Olmsted County ($78,914) and Washington County ($37,759). An additional $20,000 was spent on equipment to support local groundwater monitoring and testing activities
Project Overview

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has designed a Township Testing Program to determine current nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in private wells on a township scale. The MDA has identified townships throughout the state that are vulnerable to groundwater contamination (because of local geology or shallow groundwater) and have significant row crop production. These are the counties that will be prioritized for Township Testing.

The MDA plans to offer nitrate testing to approximately 70,000 private well owners, within 250-280 townships, between 2014 and 2021. This work will be done in partnership with local governments across the state.

For more information about this program and other groundwater protection efforts, please visit the MDA's Groundwater and Drinking Water Protection web page.

 

About the Issue

Nitrate-nitrogen (referred to as nitrate) is a water soluble compound made up of nitrogen and oxygen. It can occur naturally in groundwater at levels typically in the range of 0 to 3 parts per million (ppm). Human activities such as sewage disposal, livestock production, and crop fertilization can elevate the level of nitrate in groundwater.

The drinking water standard for nitrate is 10 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen; above this level nitrate can have negative effects on human health, specifically infants under the age of six months. Nitrate contamination above the drinking water standard is most commonly found in aquifers that are vulnerable to contamination from the land surface, such as sand and gravel aquifers and fractured bedrock aquifers. Areas with heavy row crop agriculture and vulnerable groundwater are especially at risk.

Project Details
  • A total of 58 townships in 8 counties have been sampled to date (2013-2014)
  • In 2013, approximately 1,964 wells were tested in 22 townships
      • Results indicate that in 18 of those townships, 10% or more of the wells sampled were over the Health Risk Limit of 10 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen
  • 36 townships were sampled in 2014; those results are not yet available.
  • The MDA plans to offer free nitrate test to approximately 56,000 more well owners between 2015 and 2021. Townships will be reevaluated on a 10-year cycle.
Project Manager
First Name
Kimberly
Last Name
Kaiser
Organization Name
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Street Address
625 Robert Street North
City
St. Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155
Phone
(651) 201-6280
Email
Kimberly.Kaiser@state.mn.us