With a nickname like The Land of 10,000 Lakes, you can guess that Minnesota sources its water primarily from surface water sources. The headwaters of the mighty Mississippi reside in this state, as well.
Surprisingly, Minnesotans have some concerns regarding the health of their overall water supply. Many residents consume and use water sourced from far away, meaning the water travels long distances to reach their taps. This provides the opportunity for both natural and unnatural contaminants to enter the water.
One major problem in Minnesota is the development of lands near the upper Mississippi. This can pose many problems for a watershed as anything from industrial waste to lawn fertilizer runoff could be contaminating the water.
Modern water treatments make this less of a problem but the treatment itself could cause foul tasting water with a bad odor. Hard water and discoloration also pop up in certain regions.
Common Water Problems by City
Each city, even community, faces unique challenges when sourcing, treating and distributing water. While many places share the same general source, different factors can create localized problems.
Mississippi River via Lakes Charles, Pleasant, Sucker and Vadnais
Prarie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer
Private Wells for Rural Areas
GI Issues (Wells)
The Mississippi River certainly provides its fair share of water to the residents of Minneapolis. Over 21 billion gallons of water are pulled from the river each year to supply the city with drinking water.
More than 1,000 miles of pipes get the water from source to treatment and then onto the taps of local homes and businesses. Minneapolis experiences quite a bit of dissolved iron in its water along with other minerals.
This mineral absorption creates a classic case of hard water. Some residents notice the water tastes poorly and is discolored at times. The water is safe to drink but these symptoms can be off-putting.
In addition, hard water causes domestic challenges like spotty glassware and poorly performing appliances. If discolored, the water could stain light-colored clothing.
Most of the water enjoyed by the residents of St. Paul is pulled from the Mississippi River. It travels through several different lakes on its way to the treatment facilities. In addition, supplemental supplies are drawn up from an aquifer buried about 450 feet below the surface.
As the water travels over and through the landscape, it absorbs naturally occurring minerals and earth metals. The water is treated for harmful bacterial and viral contaminants but treatment rarely removes absorbed minerals, meaning hard water is entering the system.
Hard water is safe for consumption but does create a nuisance around the house. Plumbing can slow as limescale builds up in pipes. Appliances can become less efficient. Notable dry skin can occur after bathing in hard water.
Lake Superior provides Duluth with all of its public water. The water is pulled into treatment facilities where harmful contaminants are removed. It is then put into the public supply for consumption by those attached to the municipal system.
Many Duluth residents will experience hard water. The water absorbs minerals as it sits in Lake Superior and along the way to treatment. Hard water is safe but can cause problems around the house like slow plumbing or difficulty avoiding spots on glassware.
Some residents of Duluth and its rural surroundings use well water. This water is not government regulated and residents should take care to test their wells regularly for toxic contaminants that may have leached in.
Consuming water that contains biological or chemical contaminants can result in a variety of physical ailments. Regular testing and professional treatment are the only way to avoid this when using a private well.