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. In the first phase, about 100 active Superfund sites that are part of this project.
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.
Map design elements
The map will detail where there is known groundwater contamination from active MPCA and Minn. Department of Agriculture (MDA) Superfund sites. Below is an example of how a site map might look like.
* This may not be the final symbology, but this represents the general concept at this time.
- This will allow users to download data used to make the map.
The Site Story will provide unique information not shown on the map. This additional detail and associated graphical elements for each site will be displayed when a user selects a site to view.
The Site Story will include the information listed below:
- What is the source of the contamination?
- What is the contaminant?
- Where is the contaminated groundwater? This is where the map described earlier will be available.
- Are there drinking water impacts?
This section will include a short narrative including a graphic telling where drinking water in the area comes from.
- Is soil or sediment contaminated?
- Are there vapor concerns?
- What cleanup work has been done?
- What contamination remains at the site?
For some areas of contamination, a graphic will show how deep the contamination is underground.
- Future actions.
- Who can I contact for additional information?
For some areas of contamination, a graphic will show where there is more contamination and where there is less contamination.
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 began a three-year project that will make the information accessible in a new way.
The project is compiling groundwater data from the MPCA’s and MDA's Superfund program into a central database and is producing a web-based interactive map along with supporting data files. The project is broken up into three pieces:
- Phase 1 activities included extracting groundwater data from individual MPCA files to populate the centralized EQuIS water-quality database.
- In Phase 2, staff are mapping areas of groundwater contamination using the compiled data. The agency has consulted with stakeholders to determine the best format to best suit user needs.
- In Phase 3, the web-based data and map application will be made available to the public.
It is important that the MPCA receive input and feedback from interested partners as the project moves forward. If you have questions or input on the project, please email them to the project team at GroundwaterMapping.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.