The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is asking for public comment on a plan to reduce unsafe nitrate levels in drinking water. Much of the nitrate load comes from agricultural fertilizers.
The plan includes water testing in up to 300 Minnesota townships, said Bruce Montgomery, a spokesman for the Ag Department.
"Our goal is to test approximately 70,000 wells over the next six to eight years," Montgomery said. "We're going to offer that to the residents in these sensitive townships as part of the accelerated testing."
He added: "I think Minnesota is really kind of a pioneer in this area."
Montgomery said it's estimated that more than 10 percent of those wells will have excessive nitrates. The pollutant reduces the body's ability to absorb oxygen, which can be especially problematic for pregnant women and infants.
Officials hope the research will encourage farmers to correct nitrogen runoff problems on their land.
Six public comment meetings are scheduled; the first is Sept. 5 in Marshall.