Groundwater Protection

Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Groundwater Protection Rule

The Groundwater Protection Rule minimizes potential fertilizer sources of nitrate pollution to the state’s groundwater and works with local farmers to prevent public water supply wells from exceeding the drinking water standard for nitrate. The rule was developed following a multi-year process with extensive stakeholder input.

The rule restricts the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall and to frozen soil in areas vulnerable to contamination beginning September 1, 2020. This will also apply to Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs) with elevated nitrate. In Southwest Minnesota this currently includes DWSMA’s for the City of Adrian, City of Balaton, City of Chandler, City of Edgerton, City of Ellsworth, Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water’s (LPRW) Holland, North Holland and Verdi wellfields, and Rock County Rural Water System.

Additionally, in DWSMAs with nitrate greater than or equal to 8 mg/L (parts per million), the MDA will begin forming local advisory teams with local farmers, agronomists, and other local members. The teams will be involved in reviewing, considering, and advising the MDA on appropriate management practices to reduce nitrate in community water systems. Local advisory teams are important because the goal is to involve local farmers and agronomists in problem-solving to address elevated levels of nitrate in groundwater.

For more information, including maps and a list of DWSMAs impacted by the rule visit:

For more information, contact MDA staff: Russ Derickson, 507-752-7036, (LPRW, Edgerton) or Kevin Hauth, 507-822-4175, (Rock County Rural Water, Ellsworth, Adrian)