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Lincoln-Pipestone looking for groundwater near Dawson

DAWSON – The Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System has drilled test holes looking for a groundwater source in Lac qui Parle County this summer.

It is looking to develop a water well field to serve the northern portion of its service territory, according to Jason Overby, general manager of the system headquartered in Lake Benton.

“We’re right at the gate,’’ said Overby, to explain that the rural water system is early in the process of identifying a water source for its northern service area.

The rural water system currently has a moratorium in place in the northern part of its service area. Overby said the system is allowing new connections for residential water service, but will not allow new connections for livestock production or other large water users.

The northern part of the service territory is served by a water well field near Burr in western Yellow Medicine County. Demand on the Burr water source is encroaching on the water system’s permit, Overby said.

The test holes were drilled to determine the profile of an aquifer in the Dawson area that the rural water system believes is a viable water source for the northern region. The water system is currently seeking to acquire property for a test well.

The test well would be pumped at a high volume for a period to determine the impact a water system well might have on the aquifer and other users.

In the meantime, Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water has also reached an agreement with the city of Dawson to acquire water from the municipality. City Manager Tami Schuelke-Sampson of Dawson said the city has the capacity to provide some of the water needed by Lincoln-Pipestone to serve its northern area, but not all.

The city of Dawson has an acquisition permit for 130 million gallons of water per year, according to Ryan Bjerke, area hydrologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He said the city recently submitted a request to increase the permit to 190 million gallons per year.

Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water is currently in the process of obtaining approval from Baxter Township to lay a water line along the right of way to connect to the city of Dawson’s water supply, according to Richard Olson, township clerk.

Overby said the Dawson water supply represents a short-term solution to the needs in the area, but that a water well field is needed to meet the rural water system’s long-term needs.

The rural water system has seen consistent growth in demand for water. It’s driven mainly by growth in the number of livestock operations in the region, he said.

Another driver for demand is the number of smaller communities in the region connecting to the rural water system, according to Overby. Those communities have faced issues with the saline content of the discharges from their water treatment systems, and have opted to connect to the rural water system in place of making large capital outlays for their own systems, he explained.

The sight of test drilling rigs in Baxter Township, which is located east of Dawson, had some people wondering what was going on, according to Olson, the township clerk. In response, he said the township has been working to let people know about the water exploration and possible development.

Overby said any actual well field development is likely three to five years away. There is significant work ahead yet to determine the full profile of the aquifer, obtain permits to tap it, and develop the wells, treatment facility and pipelines for it.

The Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System serves more than 4,500 accounts in all or parts of 10 counties in southwestern Minnesota, running north to south from the Dawson-Montevideo area to the Iowa border. The accounts include 36 small communities in the region.

The system has water sources near Holland and Verdi, in the southwestern corner of its area, and Burr. It is also a partner in the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System to deliver water from the Missouri River in South Dakota to Minnesota.

The source of water is a series of wells that tap into an aquifer adjacent to the Missouri River, which is pumped to a treatment plant two miles north of Vermillion. Water is currently being delivered to 13 of the 20 members.  Construction is approximately 67 percent complete as work continues to connect the remaining seven members.  

The source of water is a series of 11 wells — seven vertical and four angled — that tap into the Missouri: Elk Point Aquifer. This aquifer is hydraulically connected to the Missouri River; the greatest natural water resource in South Dakota.  

The Missouri River water will be used largely to supplant water currently provided by the Holland treatment plant, according to Overby. The water source is high in nitrates. The reverse osmosis treatment system used to remove the nitrates discharges water that is high in salinity, which has led to permit issues, he said.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335
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