New Munich Grant
Protecting Our Drinking Water
The city of New Munich is a community of 366 located in the dairy farming country of central Minnesota in Stearns County. The wellhead protection area is highly vulnerable in an area around the city wells; it includes the watershed of Uhlenkolts Lake and extends 4.5 miles to the City of Freeport. With technical assistance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA), a wellhead protection plan was completed and approved by the state of Minnesota in January of 2003.
With the persistent support of MRWA’s source water specialist Mark Wettlauffer and Stearns urban conservationist Carrie Raber from the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), New Munich officials came to realize that some wellhead protection issues are too big for a small city to tackle alone. The following summary highlights what the city did to address two real issues to engage outside assistance:
ISSUE 1 – An old brewery with large cistern wells poses a safety concern and a direct threat to the city’s drinking water supply due to potential contamination. Actions:
- City hires counsel to gain legal authority through the courts to clean up a nuisance and hazardous situation.
- City engages MDH to survey the property for wells and determine the need to seal them.
- City engages Stearns County SWCD to provide cost-share assistance to seal cistern wells.
- City engages Stearns County Local Water Planning Committee to support additional costs of well sealing through a grant from the county.
- Cistern wells get sealed in 2008, reducing the threat to drinking water
ISSUE 2 – An animal manure stockpile of high nitrate poultry manure is observed on the edge of the city’s vulnerable wellhead protection area. Actions:
- City engages the MDH staff to inquire about the potential seriousness of the matter.
- City engages Stearns County Planning and Zoning staff to inquire about need for zoning action in the matter.
- City testifies at Conditional Use Permit proceedings in front of the StearnsCounty Planning Commission to state concerns relative to the vulnerable Drinking Water Supply Management Area.
- The permit is issued with performance standards, including manure containment, monitoring wells, and other conditions to protect the drinking water.
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