MINNESOTA– After decades of delay, Minnesota’s new groundwater protection rule went into effect this summer.
The two-part rule aims to protect public health and drinking water supplies by addressing nitrate fertilizer contamination in the state’s groundwater.
Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants and elevated levels can cause health concerns.
The rules are part of the state’s overall nitrogen fertilizer management plan.
Beginning next year, use of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall and on frozen soils will be restricted in areas of the state with vulnerable groundwater.
According to the Department of Agriculture, there is extensive research documenting that nitrate from nitrogen fertilizer can leach below the root zone and migrate to groundwater.
High levels can cause health concerns among people, livestock, and aquatic ecosystems.
Four-million Minnesotans rely on groundwater for their drinking water, according to the department.
This plan aims to find a balance between the nutrients farmers put on the land to grow healthy crops and maintain the health of the public.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz applauded the Department of Agriculture for their commitment to making the state a leader in addressing nitrate contamination saying in part, “Implementation of the Groundwater Protection Rule is a major milestone in protecting the state’s groundwater and ensuring all Minnesotans have safe drinking water […] The MDA went above and beyond in their duty to gather public comments and respond to feedback as they developed these important regulations.”
The second part of the rule speaks to dealing with areas that already have elevated nitrate levels in the water.
Failure to follow the rule would result in education, compliance assistance, and eventually enforcement with civil and criminal penalties.