Wellhead Protection


The City of Detroit Lakes has recently amended their wellhead protection plan to assist in the protection of the groundwater which supplies the needs of our community.  One of the goals of this plan is to increase resident’s awareness about the vulnerability of Detroit Lakes groundwater to contamination.  It is important that each one of us recognize that we can have a direct influence on the quality of the groundwater which Detroit Lakes uses.



  • Wellhead protection is, simply stated, protecting the land area surrounding a well in order to prevent contamination of the groundwater that is likely to be drawn into the well during pumping.
  • Wellhead protection plans are encouraged by agencies such as the Minnesota Department of Health, Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency and Becker County. 
  • These agencies are responsible for setting safe drinking water standards and for protecting natural resources, such as groundwater.



  • Many people think of groundwater as an underground river or lake, but actually it occurs wherever water fills the tiny spaces in between grains of any earth material (rock or soil).  Earth materials that can transmit large quantities of water through these “pore” spaces are called AQUIFERS.  Sand and gravel typically are good aquifers, while materials such as clay and shale (a type of rock) are not. 
  • Groundwater occurs beneath the land surface in Minnesota.  In many places it lies just a few feet underground.  However, in some aquifers the groundwater lies several hundred feet beneath the surface.  
  • Groundwater usually begins as rain and melted snow which falls across the land and then seeps into the ground.  Because this water was once at the surface, human activities can affect the quality of the groundwater.  We need to be aware that the things we do at the earth’s surface can affect the quality of the water we cook with, wash with, and of course, drink.



First of all, polluted groundwater can pose health hazards to those who drink it.  Second, once it is contaminated, groundwater is very difficult to clean (if it can be cleaned at all).  If the groundwater near Detroit Lakes were to become contaminated, the city would likely be required to install filters to purify the water, or be forced to find an alternative source of water for its citizens.  This can be very expensive.           

When it come to protecting groundwater, the old saying “an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure,” applies.  Fortunately, the city wells of Detroit Lakes do not have a contamination problem at this point. 



  • Properly maintain your private well and the area around it.
  • Have abandoned water wells properly capped and sealed.
  • Conserve water:  Some contaminants are naturally degraded within soils.  The less groundwater you use, the longer it stays in the ground, and the greater chance that it can clean itself.
  • Be aware that your activities at the land surface can have a direct effect on the water you use every day.