To the Editor:
In reading the article titled "Private wells may be banned in Fairmont" on March 27, I have serious concerns about certain statements.
First, the likelihood of "hazardous material" being sucked into the city water supply by a private well is infinitesimal. Wells drilled in Minnesota after 1970 adhere to one of the best health codes in the nation. Each well that is drilled is done so by a licensed driller who must follow this code. Within the code is a provision for finishing a well so as to not allow contaminants from the surrounding area to infiltrate the well, and thus the aquifer. After a well is finished, water samples are taken and tested for a battery of items, such as arsenic levels, nitrate and bacteria, etc.
Members of the Minnesota Water Well Association, the Minnesota Department of Health and many local drillers in the Fairmont area have been instrumental in sealing abandoned wells found not only in Fairmont, but across the state. The Department of Health has been given the "Ground Water Protector Award" by the National Ground Water Association in recognition of the work it has done in sealing wells, and overseeing 250,000-plus abandoned wells sealed so our aquifers remain protected. Yes, this is not an inexpensive endeavor, but one that must be done by the responsible homeowner or city when these are found.
We understand there is a financial burden on the city to pay for a $31 million water treatment plant. However, forcing people to use city water that has been chemically treated, and then to make them pay for chemically treated water for their lawn and garden use is not the best use of treated water. The use of water from a well continues the hydrological cycle unbroken and unchanged, as it goes simply back into the ground where it came.
In dry times, the city of Fairmont should look to its own use, and the use of others in a different way. Ask the questions, "Is a total lawn watering ban needed for the summer months?" "Should vacant property in town continue to have lawn sprinklers going?" "Are the lawn sprinklers set correctly so as to not water the street?" Are there hard surfaces that rainwater runoff can be captured from to use for watering or recharge uses?"
Well water comes not only from the rain over the city. Water moves from one city/county to another. There are numerous statutes and rules the state can use to protect this resource, and this must remain at that level, not at a local level.
National Ground Water Association