Meeting tonight for Park Rapids groundwater management area

City officials, farmers and others who live and work in the Park Rapids area will learn more tonight about a new groundwater management area that could affect how water is used and distributed.

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Department of Natural Resources officials are setting up a groundwater management area over concerns about the health of a trout stream and potential drinking water contamination. 

Officials have measured decreased flow rates in the Straight River, a designated trout stream, that could at some point affect the ecosystem.

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"We've been able to measure and document that the amount of groundwater being pumped has had an effect on the flow of the Straight River some times of the year, typically late summer into fall," said Jason Moeckel, who oversees monitoring and analysis of water supplies for the DNR.

On top of that, fertilizers used in farming in the area have led to nitrate pollution. The city of Park Rapids has even had to upgrade its water treatment systems to get rid of nitrates.

In the next year, officials will decide whether to place restrictions on groundwater pumping.

The groundwater management area is one of three test areas the DNR is establishing. The others are in the northeast metro area and an area just north of Willmar known as the Bonanza Valley.

Here's the agenda for tonight's meeting in Park Rapids.