Groundwater contamination affects our use of this precious resource and is a concern for a variety of public and private users. City planners need this type of information when looking for possible locations for new municipal drinking water wells. Businesses need it when they rely on clean water to function, and are looking to expand or develop new facilities. And citizens benefit from access to this information as they make decisions about where to place private drinking water wells, or simply for peace of mind.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) collects much groundwater data from remediation sites, but it is typically stored in paper and electronic files that are not easily accessible. The Groundwater Contamination Mapping Project seeks to move this data into a standardized data management system that can be accessed through a web-based, interactive map.
This project is a stepping stone to increase public awareness about groundwater. For most people, it is a resource that is out of sight and out of mind. Maps showing areas where groundwater is polluted will help build public knowledge and appreciation that is needed to protect and conserve this valuable resource.
In July of 2017, the MPCA received funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to make groundwater data from Superfund sites more accessible to the public. With this funding the MPCA is beginning a three-year project that will make the information accessible in a new way.
The project will compile groundwater data from the MPCA’s Superfund program into a central database and will produce a web-based interactive map along with supporting data files. The project will be broken up into three pieces:
- Year 1 activities will include extracting groundwater data from individual MPCA files to populate the centralized EQuIS water-quality database.
- During year 2, staff will begin mapping areas of groundwater contamination using the compiled data. There are multiple options for displaying this data. The agency will consult with stakeholders to determine what format best suits users’ needs.
- In year 3, the web-based data and map application will be made available to the public.
There are almost 100 active Superfund sites that are part of this project. Groundwater contamination at each of the contaminated sites is monitored using a network of monitoring wells. Groundwater samples are collected from each well and taken to a lab for analysis. The frequency of sampling and the contamination that the lab tests for varies from project to project.
Sampling data will be loaded into EQuIS. EQuIS stores various information about these sites including monitoring locations, chemical test results, characteristics of the underground geology, and field notes/observations.
It is important that the MPCA receive input and feedback from interested partners as the project moves forward. Those interested in following the project’s progress are encouraged to sign up for the Groundwater Contamination Mapping Project GovDelivery list. Find it in the "Cleanup" section of the MPCA's subscription page.
Contact Hans Neve with any questions or input on the project.