Protecting Our Drinking Water
In the summer of 2010, municipal workers discovered an unused city well dating from the early 1900s in Nashwauk, a city on the Mesabi Iron Range in Itasca County in northern Minnesota.
The well was found when an old water treatment plant was being demolished to make way for a new treatment facility. During the removal of a concrete floor in the old plant, an 8 x 8 foot shaft, more than 100 feet deep, with a 16-inch well casing protruding from it was found. Records showed that this was a city water supply well, drilled in 1904 and abandoned 15 years later. The well was in close proximity to the current city water supply well and posed a threat to the aquifer the city used for water supply.
In the fall of 2010 the city consulted with staff from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Well Management Section on the correct procedure to seal the shaft. In the spring of 2011 the city used a Clean Water Fund source water protection implementation grant to seal the well casing protruding from the shaft area. Sealing this large conduit to the aquifer afforded the city with a significant new level of protection. Sealing this large shaft, a potential conduit for contamination into the aquifer, afforded Nashwauk with a significant new level of protection.
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