New MDA Groundwater Protection Rule – Restriction Areas Map Available

Areas where the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall or on frozen soils will be restricted have been determined. These areas include much of Anoka County (see the image below).

This restriction is part of the new Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Groundwater Protection rule (Minnesota Rules Chapter 1573). The rule minimizes potential sources of nitrate pollution to our groundwater and thus protects drinking water. With two parts, the rule creates restrictions on the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall in areas that are vulnerable to contamination and outlines steps to address and reduce the severity of elevated nitrate levels when they already exist in public water supply wells.

The intention of the rule is “to promote appropriate nitrogen fertilizer best management practices (BMPs) and to involve local farmers and agronomists in adopting the most current science-based and economically viable practices that can reduce nitrate in groundwater”. Click here to learn more about Alternative Management Tools (AMTs). MDA says that “the goal is to involve local farmers and agronomists in problem-solving to address increased levels of nitrate in groundwater”.

Part 1

Notification of areas subject to the restrictions established in Part 1 is happening now and the restrictions will take effect this fall in September 2020. Part 1 of the rule establishes restrictions on application of nitrogen fertilizer if you farm in:

  1. An area with vulnerable groundwater (much of Anoka County)
  2. Protection areas around a public well, known as drinking water supply management areas (DWSMAs), with already high nitrate levels (none in Anoka County at this time)
    • “High” nitrate is determined as 5.4 mg/L or greater nitrate-nitrogen

The “Vulnerable Groundwater Areas” are designated by quarter sections and are determined by one of the following criteria:

If 50% or more of a quarter section is considered vulnerable, the entire quarter section is included. Click here to see an interactive map of these areas across the state. In these Vulnerable Groundwater Areas, nitrate can move easily through soil and into groundwater, which can contaminate groundwater resources.

Part 2

Regulation of Part 2 of the rule, which responds to DWSMAs that already have elevated nitrate levels, could be three years after the rule takes place, at the earliest, and after a DWSMA is determined to meet certain criteria. The goal of this part of the rule is to take action to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater before a public well exceeds the health standard for nitrate of 10 mg/L.

More information

For more information on the rule, check out the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s website on the topic at


MPCA Smart Salting Program News

The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) Smart Salting Program is “for winter maintenance and property management professionals seeking to maintain safe surfaces using less salt”.

Topics in the 2/10/2020 bulletin include:

  • Several Smart Salting trainings coming up in February (see below)
  • The 20th Annual Salt Symposium will be on August 5th, 2020 – topics: the latest chloride research and innovations, water softening, dust control, fertilizers, and more. Registration opens in March.
  • Salt success in the news – Wright County Highway Dept
  • Free resources to manage public awareness of chloride reduction

Click here to read the bulletin.

Upcoming Smart Salting Trainings:

  • Smart Salting for Property Management: 2/11/2020, 9:00 am-1:00 pm, Host: City of Edina
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/12/2020, 9:00 am-1:30 pm, Host: Ceres Environmental
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/18/2020, 9:00 am-1:30 pm, Host: Nine Mile Creek Watershed District
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/26/2020, 9:00 am-1:00 pm, Host: Damel Corporation, Inc.
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/28/2020, 8:00 am-1:00 pm, Host: YMCA-Twin Cities

For registration information and locations, see the bulletin.

Spring 2020 Waterline Out Now

The Spring 2020 issue of Waterline is out now! “The Waterline is a quarterly newsletter for water operators, city officials, and others interested in news related to public water systems in Minnesota”, published by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Protection program.

Highlights in this issue include a special story on how the Xcel Energy Center uses St. Paul water to make the ice rink for the Minnesota Wild, a Star Tribune article on water towers (“Why Do We Have Water Towers and What Do They Do?”), a story on a new canine employee at Central Arkansas Water, and the introduction of “Patty Potty” – a creation of the San Jacinto River Authority in Texas to promote its “No Wipes in the Pipes” campaign.

Articles included in the issue:

  • Help Possible for Lead Service Line Replacements
  • What Are Those Spaceship-Looking Things?
  • Water-Wastewater Utilities Treatment and Technology Program Update
  • Community Water Supply Additions
  • Service Connection Fee Increase Takes Effect
  • Sniff This
  • Metro School to Have Special Day for Superintendents and Supervisors
  • Surface-Water Optimization Training in Minnesota
  • Crookston Honored with People’s Choice Award
  • Wild Rink Starts with St. Paul Water
  • Randall Gets Award from the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Grants Awarded for Bottle-Filling Stations
  • Lake Harriet Pump
  • Lewis & Clark Project to Benefit from Increase in Rural Water Funding
  • EPA Turns 50
  • Check out Patty Potty and Other Worthy Sites
  • New Addresses for Minnesota Department of Health Water Websites

Click here to read the issue.

Past issues of the Waterline can be found here.

Subscribe to the Waterline here. 

Reminder: Upcoming Well and Septic Maintenance Training

Have you signed up for the upcoming well and septic maintenance training? If not, sign up today!

Below is the original post from this past October:

“Do you own your own well? How about a septic system? Do you wish you had a better idea of how to take care of them? Then you should plan on attending this upcoming class! Attendees will be provided with a maintenance manual to keep. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

In partnership with the City of Ramsey and the UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, the Anoka Conservation District invites you to a free septic system and private well homeowner education class on Thursday, March 12th from 5-7 pm in the Ramsey City Hall’s Alexander Ramsey Room (7550 Sunwood Dr NW, Ramsey, 55303). Space is limited, so reserve your seat early. Register online here!

Learn about:

  • Potential contaminants in your drinking water well
  • How and when to inspect and maintain your septic system
  • Impacts of faulty or damaged wells and septic systems

Please email Emily Johnson at or call her at 763-434-2030 x17 with any questions.”

‘Relief’ Art Exhibit Open House

Check out a new art exhibit – Relief – Saturday, February 1, 2020 from 10 am to noon at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Stormwater Park and Learning Center.

Relief explores how technological experiences influence the way we understand the outdoors. Artist Alyssa Baguss creates tactile cartographic experiences of Minnesota’s natural water features through experimental processes and materials. (Guests are encouraged to touch the artwork!)

Socialize over coffee, stream tables and art-making. Alyssa Baguss will host a morning of water-related activities paired with beverages and fantastic views of the Mississippi River.

This exhibition was made possible through a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.

The MWMO Stormwater Park and Learning Center is located at 2522 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418.

How to Test Your Well Water Video

Have you seen the Minnesota Department of Health’s new well water testing video? Click here to watch it.

The video explains what contaminants should be tested for and when to test your well water. The image below shows the most significant contaminants to test for:

Anoka County Environmental Services offers a well water testing program. Call 763-324-4260 for more information. You can also search for an accredited lab here. Learn more at

Workshop: Fight Snow and Ice, Pollution Free

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) is hosting a workshop called “Fight Snow and Ice, Pollution Free” on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 from 1 to 2:30 pm at the Columbia Heights Library (3939 Central Avenue NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421). Below is the event description:

“Warm up with hot cocoa and treats while you learn ways to prevent slippery sidewalks using methods that prevent pollution in local waterbodies. Tour the Columbia Heights Library and learn how features built into its landscape reduce the need to use deicers, add winter beauty, and filter out water pollutants in the spring. Participate in a fun, hands-on demonstration and take home your own copy of the MWMO’s Good Neighbor Guide.”

The workshop is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.

MWMO’s New “Path to the River” Tool

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) recently published a blog post about their new Path to the River tool, which is also embedded into their new stormwater Story Map.

The tool allows residents to see exactly how water flows from their street into the river, including the path it takes, how fast it moves, and the amount of pollution it carries, by simply clicking on a point on a map of the watershed. If runoff is being captured and treated by a known stormwater best management practice, the tool will also show that.

[Click on the photo to enlarge]

The Path to the River tool is also embedded into a new Story Map, which “highlights how our changing landscapes impact water quality, and showcases the MWMO’s water quality monitoring program and green infrastructure projects”. It should be noted that the Path to the River tool included in the Story Map is slightly different than the main tool.

For more information on the tool and its background, see the full MWMO blog post by Nick Busse, Communications Principal. The post also includes a YouTube video introducing the tool and demonstrating how to use it.

Click here to go to the Path to the River tool.

Click here to go to the Story Map.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve Upcoming Events

There are a number of upcoming events hosted by the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, including:

  • 1/22/2020, 6:30-8 pm – Ecology Book Club at Cedar Creek
  • 2/11/2020, 11:30 am-1 pm – Lunch with a Scientist: Nutrient Alteration
  • 2/18/2020, 12-1 pm – Monthly Forestry Webinar
  • 2/22/2020, 11 am-12 pm – Animals in Winter at the Johnsville Library
  • 2/26/2020, 6:30-8 pm – Ecology Book Club at Cedar Creek
  • 3/10/2020, 11:30 am-1 pm – Lunch with a Scientist: Climate Change
  • 3/17/2020, 12-1 pm – Monthly Forestry Webinar
  • 3/19/2020, 11 am-12:30 pm – Spring Equinox Hike
  • 3/25/2020, 6:30-8 pm – Ecology Book Club at Cedar Creek
  • 3/28/2020, 7:30-10 pm – Spring Star Party

More information can be found in the Winter 2020 issue of the Field Notes newsletter. Newsletters can be found here.

Chloride Salt Learning Tool

“What happens when salt gets in our water sources?”

Check out this new learning tool developed by graduate students! The tool illustrates how chloride salts from water softeners and winter application can affect infrastructure and vehicles, health, the environment, and pets and how you can reduce the salt in our water.

Powered by WordPress