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Public water networks, MDH maintains water quality while meeting major challenges


Press release
May 2, 2022

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MDH report notes efforts to address contaminants of concern, replacement of lead service lines, resource disparities between systems, among others

Providing clean, plentiful drinking water to all Minnesotans is a big job, and a new report released today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Drinking Water Annual Report for 2021 ( PDF), finds that in most communities served by the state’s 6,677 public water systems, the job is well done. However, there are stubborn challenges with the quality and quantity of drinking water in some areas of the state.

The MDH report provides an overview of public water system monitoring over the past year and highlights several strategic initiatives to address these water quality and quantity challenges. It also assesses how well public water systems meet the standards set out in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Although some areas of the state face challenges related to aging infrastructure and quality and quantity issues, the vast majority of public water systems have met all Federal Sanitation Act regulations. Of drinking water. The report shows that more than 98 percent of Minnesotans drinking water from a public community water system received water that met all federal health standards throughout the year.

The annual report also highlights key initiatives such as:

  • Efforts to identify and address potential new contaminants.
  • New measures to protect users of public water systems against lead contamination.
  • Initiatives to reduce the gaps between the capacity of systems to deliver quality water.

The release of the annual Drinking Water Report is accompanied by Governor Tim Walz’s declaration of May 1-7 as Safe Drinking Water Week in Minnesota, a time when water professionals and communities qu ‘they serve recognize the vital role clean water plays in our daily lives. .

Results tracking

According to the report, only rare contamination problems existed in 2021 in Minnesota’s 965 community water systems (including 730 municipal water systems) and the state’s 5,712 non-community systems, which serve water. to people in places other than their homes, such as factories, schools, and resorts.

Among the issues noted in the report:

  • Four community and five non-community systems exceeded the nitrate standard in 2021.
  • At the end of 2021, seven community water systems and five non-community systems exceeded the standard for arsenic.
  • Three community systems and one non-community system exceeded the action level for lead in 2021.

In addition to the state-published report, Minnesota communities release their consumer confidence reports to their public water supply customers by July 1 of each year. These reports provide summary details of monitoring results for each public water supply system.

Strategic initiatives

MDH ensures safe drinking water by addressing risks contaminants of concern (CEC). CECs are often unregulated or regulated to a level that may no longer adequately protect human health. MDH has numerous surveillance, policy and awareness projects to address CECs in drinking water. Among those highlighted in the report are a project with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to identify public and private water supplies that may contain cyanazine or its breakdown products in their water source and a project to to test all community water supplies in the state for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Although children’s exposure to the hazards of lead has been greatly reduced over the past few decades, lead service lines, that connect water pipes to household plumbing, remains one of the possible routes of exposure – and there is no safe level of lead. The report discusses recent major regulatory changes to lead and copper by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the economic and public health significance of lead service line replacement and plans to distribute an influx of new federal funds for replacement of lead service lines.

In Minnesota, some small water systems serving populations with low median household incomes are experiencing water quality violations and are facing challenges to improve their systems that are not shared by systems. older or better off. This poses potential inequities in health outcomes for users of these systems. The report describes several initiatives aimed at addressing health equity and disparities in Minnesota water systems. The report also highlights the strategic initiatives that MDH is pursuing with respect to source water protection, water reuse and climate change. The report includes a brief discussion of how water utilities and MDH have worked together to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report is available online at:
Minnesota Drinking Water Annual Report for 2021 (PDF)


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications

[email protected]