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Minnesota seeks farmers' help on nitrates in water

Drinking water is poured from a tap into a glass By Klaus Ohlenschläger (http://www.blog.ohlenschlaeger.info) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Drinking water is poured from a tap into a glass By Klaus Ohlenschläger (http://www.blog.ohlenschlaeger.info) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

WORTHINGTON, Minn. (AP) -- As Minnesota communities spend millions of dollars to remove nitrate contamination from their drinking water, state officials say it's time for farmers to do more to prevent the problem.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture plans to use new rules to be more aggressive in getting farmers to limit the amount of fertilizer chemicals leaching into groundwater. Assistant Commissioner Matt Wohlman say the agency could restrict how much nitrogen is applied; restrict the timing, source and placement of applications; or require the use of certain best management practices.

But Kris Sigford, water quality director at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, says the department hasn't moved fast or forcefully enough to reverse rising nitrate levels.

Consumers often pay the cleanup costs through higher water bills.

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