(Alexandria, MN) -- The City of Alexandria’s municipal utility, ALP Utilities is being recognized for its exceptional commitment to protecting the community’s drinking water supply. ALP Utilities wellhead protection team was presented a certificate signed by Governor Mark Dayton at ALP Utilities on March 12, 2016.
In a letter to the city, Commissioner of Health Edward Ehlinger commended ALP as a "leader and fine example for other communities in the state as they seek to safeguard their source of drinking water."
ALP has taken an active role in protecting drinking water from leaking fuel tanks and industrial pollutants found in the area. The water meets all safe drinking water standards with treatment, yet ALP is working to pass an ordinance to prevent any future contamination of their water source. The ordinance has been reviewed during public hearings and will be brought to city council for approval in 2016.
ALP Utilities has also aided the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in studying a plume of petroleum from the Magellan Pipeline Terminal leak. The petroleum is not currently causing any problems for the drinking water, but ALP is helping state agencies monitor the encroaching plume.
ALP has been active in monitoring, well sampling and analysis. As Scott explains, being proactive is the best approach. "We have been keeping our ears to the ground. If we have a vulnerability to our drinking water supply, we want to know about it." They have over 15 years of analytical data and reports on file. Because groundwater mitigation efforts of pumping and contaminant removal haven’t stopped the plume, ALP has been kept on their toes in preparation. As a result of this study, ALP has been active in supplying city water to residents whose wells have contamination. Once they are connected, ALP has drawn on its own funds to seal the unused wells.
According to George Minerich, MDH Principal Planner, "The wellhead protection team has accomplished one of the largest inventories by locating wells in source water protection history for the Northwest area. They have identified and evaluated approximately 800 wells to date, and have submitted that information to MDH. Furthermore, ALP has their own well sealing program where they pay the cost of sealing unused wells. They have a process in place where as soon as a residence is hooked up to city water, they have a licensed well driller contracted to seal the wells," Minerich stated.
Since 2005, in accordance with their WHP plan, the city has sealed 173 wells and spent $39,414.71 to protect their groundwater. ALP Utilities plant supervisor, Keith Avery stated, "Achieving success through effort has been our emphasis from the very beginning of our wellhead protection. Over a decade ago, with advice from Minnesota Rural Water Association Dave Neiman, we decided to create a tool instead of just a plan. And as such, we were able to use that tool as a resource for the future," noted Avery.
According to Scott Deitz, ALP Utilities Operations Manager, "All of their success can be attributed to the dedicated, skilled professionals that encompass the wellhead protection team".
These team members are: Scott Deitz-ALP operations manager, Keith Avery-ALP plant supervisor, Mike Weber-City planner, Jesse Wohlfeil-ALP GIS manager, Scot Spranger-ALASD plant superintendent, Steve Traut- Steven M. Traut Wells, Inc., Steve Henry- Douglas SWCD/Local water management plan, George Minerich and Jenilynn Marchand-MDH, and Marilyn Bayerl-Bayerl Water Resources.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) works with public water suppliers to develop and implement wellhead protection plans. ALP is one of 433 public water suppliers implementing wellhead protection plans for their drinking water. The protection plans involve efforts to prevent contamination of the source of drinking water. Prevention is used as the first step in protecting public health, and is increasingly important as Minnesota faces threats to water quality.