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Blue Mounds State Park officials agree to water study

Mavis Fodness

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials liken the operation of a state park to that of a municipality. Finding and maintaining a safe water source in each of the state’s 75 state parks has been a challenge.
Kathy Dummer, DNR’s southern region park and trail manager, DNR engineers and other representatives met with local officials Oct. 13 about connecting to Rock County Rural Water System.
The RCRW is in the final stages of a $5 million expansion and improvement project and has extended invitations to connect to the system by this fall. The Blue Mounds State Park was also invited.
However, park officials have neither accepted nor declined the invitation.
Two years ago, a new well was established at the park when water tests indicated the previous well’s water was unsafe for drinking.
Continued tests of the new well recently revealed the new water source is also contaminated and is unsafe for drinking. County officials see the connection to rural water as a solution and invited DNR officials to a meeting.
“Each of our 75 state park and recreation units functions as a small city,” Dummer said in an email after the meeting.
“Managing water resources and infrastructure is an operational function at each unit similar to municipalities. We choose to operate at this level to ensure that our visitors not only have safe water, but a pleasant overall experience when visiting a park.”
While a connection to rural water is a solution, it’s not the only solution the DNR is considering.
“DNR continues to work with the Department of Health to isolate water quality issues at Blue Mounds State Park to identify the nature of the contamination before completely eliminating the current well as a viable drinking water source or the possibility of drilling a new well,” Dummer indicated.
“County and DGR Engineering staff have encouraged the DNR to consider other water options such as onsite storage due to concerns that an economically and structurally feasible rural water route to the park may not be possible.”
A six-inch water line is currently three miles west of the state park’s entrance. Between the two points are several rock formations. The size and extent of these formations will be part of the feasibility study.
DNR officials agreed to finance the study at an estimated cost of $5,000 and work with county officials to develop the feasibility’s study scope.
DGR Engineering of Rock Rapids, Iowa, who has been working with RCRW’s current expansion and improvement project, will conduct the final study.
The timeline for the study’s completion is unknown, Dummer said.

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