Star Herald Editorial
This week, May 6-12, is Drinking Water Week, which recognizes the critical role drinking water plays in our daily lives.
The theme for the week is “Protect the Source,” which encourages people to learn more about their drinking water sources and why protecting them is critical to our health.
Drinking water refers to the water that comes out of our taps. Americans use drinking water multiple times a day, every day, for many different activities. Beyond consumption, drinking water is used for bathing, cooking and washing clothes, just to name a few.
The United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, according to environmental protection agency officials.
But we must remain diligent in protecting our drinking water supplies, even locally.
Last year seven townships in Rock County were identified as vulnerable to groundwater contamination. These 674 potentially affected households were sent water-testing kits.
Of these kits, 171 samples were voluntarily submitted and the results were not good: Half of them exceeded the 10 parts per million levels of nitrates.
This fall state agriculture officials visited these high nitrate sites to determine possible non-fertilizer sources of the nitrates. Results have not yet been made public.
As we continue to test our private wells, our public water suppliers have taken steps to protect their groundwater sources from contaminants in recent years.
Rock County and Lincoln Pipestone rural water systems have worked with landowners to limit soil inputs near crucial wellhead areas.
Pipestone Lincoln Rural Water has gone so far as to acquire 200 acres of highly vulnerable lands within its Verdi well field in efforts to keep nitrates within safe drinking water limits. LPRW serves our residents in northeastern areas of Rock County.
For their efforts LPRW was awarded the “Source Water Protection Award.”
Rock County Rural Water earned the same honor in 2017.
While our public water systems have made outstanding efforts to protect our drinking water, we still have work on the private level.
If our private wells continue to show increased nitrate levels, we should all be concerned. As these concentrations increase, nitrates could also affect those public system wells.
Simply put, we need to be cognizant of what we put on our lawns as well as on our crop fields.
During this week of focusing on drinking water and protecting its source, it is the duty of all of us to preserve and/or improve the quality of our water in decades to come.