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Nevis drafting Wellhead Protection plan to protect quality of drinking water

By Jean Ruzicka

Nevis Council members learned the city will be drafting a Wellhead Protection Plan, groundwater specialist Mike Strodtman of the Minnesota Rural Water Association lending expertise.

The year-long process is to “protect drinking water,” to prevent it from becoming polluted by managing potential sources of contamination in the area.

At this point, there is no detection of potential contaminants, he told the council.

The majority of the city’s water is surface water, more than 80 percent from Lake Belle Taine through the groundwater aquifer, he said.

Lake Belle Taine is at the bottom of a 100-square-mile watershed, “with no natural exit, an enormous area to manage.”

This lends to the vulnerability of the drinking water, he explained, creating “a significant amount of work to gather information on potential contaminants.

“Precipitation enters the drinking water in a short period of time,” he pointed out.

“We are tested to death,” city maintenance supervisor Don Umthun said. “But that’s good.” He noted the city water nitrate level is very low.

Management strategies will be developed. Potential contaminants such as septic systems, fertilizer runoff and others will be addressed. “We want to educate on how land use has a potential impact” on drinking water, Strodtman said.

Julie Kingsley of the Soil and Water Conservation District questioned where the city’s storm water runoff goes, learning half is directed to the skating rink, half to the wetland by the public landing.

Park Rapids and Walker have had plans in place for 10 years, Strodtman said.

Nevis will not have to hire a consultant due to its size. The process starts with meetings with city staff, he said.

Newly appointed council member Mollie Senger said she has noticed significant weed growth by the public beach while swimming, questioning if this could be from yard fertilizer.

“It could be,” Strodtman said, noting information sheets can be sent to property owners on the topic.

In other action, the council:

n Learned from mayor Chris Norton that there have been no incidents at the city park this summer, attributing this to deputy Josh Oswald and the new lights.

Norton reported a designated park fund of $5,000 has been established with donations from individuals and businesses welcome.

Umthun reported the rafts and buoys will be removed in the next two weeks. “Summer’s over.”

Senger requested new sand be added to the beach, five cubic yards can be distributed without a permit.

n Set hydrant flush dates of Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 6-8.

n Agreed to continue posting for applicants for the city liquor store manager position for an additional 14 days.

Lisa Kamrowski, who resigned the position at the last council meeting, suggested employees filling in for her should be compensated for the additional responsibilities, but the council took no action on this.

n Reported liquor store earnings of $6,699 in August.

n Approved the purchase of 40 new chairs for the liquor store ($2,080 plus tax and shipping) and eight bar stools ($720 plus tax and shipping).

n Expressed gratitude to Bullwinkle’s owners Gary and Kathy Plumley for hosting the rib cook-off fundraiser, benefitting the Marine Corps League Honor Guard.

The event raised approximately $3,000, Kathy Plumley reported, with 15 teams of chefs cooking. A sellout of 2,000 “bone tickets” went within an hour and a half, she said.

n Learned the vandalism at the city water tower has not yet been resolved.

n Tabled approval of the schedules for the fire department’s lump sum pension plan report for 2014.