A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shows Minnesota’s state and local partners have managed to keep nearly all public water systems in compliance with federal standards, but they face growing concerns about aging infrastructure and water quality and quantity.
MDH released the Minnesota Drinking Water Annual Report for 2018 as part of activities marking Safe Drinking Water Week, May 5-11. The week is set aside each year to recognize the vital role safe drinking water plays in people’s daily lives and to call attention to the efforts of water professionals and public sector partners who make safe drinking water possible.
In addition to the release of the report, a signature event for Safe Drinking Water Week in the Twin Cities this year was a water tasting opportunity at the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 8, courtesy of the Water Bar of Minneapolis. Water tenders offer flights of water from three community water systems and guests sample each one, trying to guess the source, while learning about where their water comes from.
Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed May 5-11 Safe Drinking Water Week in Minnesota. The proclamation stresses the importance of source water protection efforts around the state.
“Protecting our sources of drinking water from contamination or overuse is the first step in ensuring a safe water supply,” Governor Walz said in the proclamation. “Minnesotans depend on an adequate supply of safe drinking water for their health, quality of life and economic viability.”
The governor included a number of provisions in his 2019 budget to protect and strengthen the state’s drinking water systems. The budget includes additional funding to support drinking water protection activities across the state, preventing costs from shifting to public water suppliers, many of whom are small business owners. The budget also includes measures to evaluate emerging health risks and to prevent contamination of private wells and groundwater.
During Safe Drinking Water Week, MDH also recognizes communities that excel in source water protection efforts. This year, Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District, the city of Georgetown and Elk River Municipal Utilities received awards for their source water protection efforts. More information can be found on MDH’s Source Water Protection Awards page.
This year’s report provides a summary of the compliance status of Minnesota water systems, outlines challenges facing public water systems and discusses how MDH works with local partners to provide and maintain safe drinking water in the state. The report describes how MDH helps communities and public water supplies provide safe drinking water by:
• Protecting source water.
• Educating Minnesotans on where their
water comes from and how to keep it safe.
• Training water system operators.
• Assisting water systems with technical
• Testing water.
• Addressing threats to drinking water.
• Funding projects.
Results of monitoring by MDH engineers and public health sanitarians indicate that the vast majority of Minnesota’s 6,747 public water systems have met all the regulations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and more than 99 percent of Minnesotans who drink water from a public water system received water that met all federal standards throughout the entire year.
According to Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm, partnerships are key to keeping Minnesota’s drinking water safe.
“MDH works proactively with local communities, other state agencies and many additional partners every day to make sure that drinking water is safe every time anyone anywhere in Minnesota turns on their tap,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “Safe drinking water is essential to public health, and protecting that water is a top priority.”