Surface Water Program

Surface Water Program
Clean Water Fund

In Minnesota, most community public water systems use groundwater for their source of drinking water. However, the 23 systems that use surface water serve 1.4 million people—25% of the state population. Surface water sources in Minnesota include lakes, rivers, and man-made reservoirs. They are diverse, ranging in size from mine pits to Lake Superior. Source water protection is required for systems using groundwater, but voluntary for systems that use surface water.

Surface water systems have Source Water Assessments that Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) prepared in 2003. The assessments contain information about water quality, the protection area, and potential sources of contamination. In 2017, the Minnesota Legislature approved funding for MDH to help surface water systems update their Source Water Assessments and develop Surface Water Intake Protection Plans. The Fairmont Source Water Assessment (PDF) has been updated and is available on the MDH website.

Surface Water Intake Protection Plans will use the assessments to:

  • Identify and prioritize activities to protect the drinking water source; and
  • Describe how local partners can help.

Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior

MDH has dedicated two full-time staff to work with surface water systems. See Planner and Hydrologist Areas (PDF) for more information. MDH staff will initiate this process by contacting the municipality or utility. 

Updated Thursday, 19-Dec-2019 10:28:39 CST