The Hastings Area Nitrate Study (Phase I) was conducted from 1999 through 2003 to determine the extent and sources of nitrate contamination problems in the City of Hastings and the surrounding areas. One quarter of the private wells tested as part of the study exceeded the drinking water standard for nitrate (10 milligrams per liter) and another quarter contained elevated levels of nitrate (3–10 milligrams per liter). Nitrate can come from a variety of sources, but in the Hastings Area Nitrate Study, it was found to be very strongly associated with row crop agriculture. The Vermillion River was found to play a role in transporting contaminated water downstream.
In 2007, Dakota County conducted Phase II of the HANS project. Dakota County led the project in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Extension, Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, U. S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the City of Hastings and others to prevent future groundwater contamination within the Vermillion River Watershed. See the
Hastings Area Nitrate Study and