2020-2030 Dakota County Groundwater Plan identified chemicals from row-crop farming, especially nitrate, crop herbicides and chloride, as significant drinking water issues for much of rural Dakota County. The Agricultural Chemical Reduction Effort (ACRE) intends to use voluntary initiatives to reduce those chemicals in groundwater, so they no longer pose threats to human or environmental health.
The Dakota County Board of Commissioners adopted the ACRE Plan in October 2022.
Dakota County and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff developed the ACRE project plan with the expectation that measurable progress on quantitative and qualitative outcomes will be made within the next 10 years. More outcomes are listed in the ACRE project plan.
Dakota County and SWCD staff and their consultant, Environmental Initiative, used a variety of approaches to engage with the agricultural community and other stakeholders to develop, consider and refine the ACRE plan strategies and tactics.
Agricultural Chemical Reduction Effort Plan - Final
Groundwater Nitrate Modeling
ACRE monitoring wells
Dakota County will use the results from a rural monitoring well network and its private well sampling programs to evaluate trends in groundwater and drinking water chemicals, including nitrate, chloride and pesticides.
The purpose of the monitoring well network is to:
- Quantify the baseline nitrate conditions at the water table in the vulnerable areas of the county
- Interpret the results in terms of nitrogen losses per acre
- Monitor changes in those conditions over time.
Changes in farming practices and water quality trends should be detectable in the shallow groundwater first. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has installed wells within the Hastings Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA). Dakota County's wells are outside this area. The wells are located within public rights-of-way to avoid potential issues with private landowners.
Dakota County installed 15 monitoring wells in 2021 and 2022. The wells will be sampled at least three times per year (spring, summer, and fall) for nitrate (NO3-N), chloride, and other chemicals. The depth to the groundwater (called the static water level or SWL) will be measured each time samples are collected.
ACRE Monitoring Wells Dashboard
Funding for the ACRE Plan is provided through the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment, distributed by the Minnesota Department of Health to Dakota County.