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Register for Agriculture & Groundwater: Local Solutions to Protect Both

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Groundwater is an important resource for landowners near Otter Tail Lake. Many of the residents living there rely on the groundwater for drinking water. Much of the time this water is invisible, hiding beneath layers of soil and rock, but the quality of this water can vary greatly depending on what happens on the surface. In order to prevent contamination of this water source the Otter Tail Water Management District (OTWMD), in partnership with the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (EOTSWCD), has sealed almost 100 unused wells near Otter Tail Lake. OTWMD manages the septic systems for private residents in the area.  In order to monitor these septic systems, monitoring wells were installed many years ago.  These wells are no longer being used and represent a threat to the groundwater.  Unsealed and unused wells, like these monitoring wells, can be a direct conduit for contaminants into the aquifer.  To learn more about well sealing and why it is so important watch the video above!

 

 

Grant Name: Ottertail Water Management District Well Sealing

Grant Funds: 2017 Well Sealing Clean Water Funds

Leveraged Funds: $15,035

Total Project Budget: $32,320

Target Water: Otter Tail Surficial Aquifer (Otter Tail Oasis)

Project Sponsors: Otter Tail Water Management District, East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District

Project Contact: Ben Underhill, Water Planner, EOTSWCD

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Project Narrative:

94 unused monitoring wells sealed were located in the Otter Tail Water Management District (OTWMD) service area. OTWMD maintains and manages wastewater for approximately 1,700 private households located adjacent to Otter Tail Lake, Deer Lake, and Lake Blanche in central Otter Tail County. The sealed wells were installed by the OTWMD for monitoring groundwater chemistry related to septic systems as required by other state agencies. However, these wells are no longer used for this purpose and in many cases do not meet today’s monitoring well standards. These wells are located in the Otter Tail Surficial Aquifer (also known as the Otter Tail Oasis Aquifer) which is highly susceptible to groundwater contamination. This aquifer is a shallow sand aquifer used by many private residents as their source of drinking water. 101 wells were targeted for sealing, but because of access on private land and deeper than expected wells 94 were sealed through this program. The exact coordinates of these wells have been located by the Otter Tail Water Management District and EOTSWCD. See map below for approximate locations.

CWF OT Wells Edit

 

Actual Outcomes: With the 2017 Well Sealing Grant 94 high priority wells were sealed. These wells had direct access to the Otter Tail Surficial Aquifer (also known as the Otter Tail Oasis Aquifer) and represented a clear threat to safe drinking water for private citizens in the area. Additionally, a well sealing demonstration video was created to increase knowledge and understanding about the issue.

On November 4, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment to the constitution to:

  • protect drinking water sources;
  • protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat;
  • preserve arts and cultural heritage;
  • support parks and trails;
  • and protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

The Amendment increases the sales and use tax rate by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales, starting July 1, 2009, continuing through 2034. Those dollars are dedicated to four funds: Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Parks and Trails Fund, and Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

To see more projects from this funding go to http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/cleanwaterfund/stories/