Drought Crippling Fairmont & DNR Nixes Using Lake Water

FAIRMONT, Minn. (WCCO) — After a dry summer, fall drought conditions hit much of Minnesota hard.

And DNR scientists believe a lack of snow this winter means it will likely get worse — southwestern Minnesota is the driest.

The once fertile farm fields of Martin County better resemble a barren tundra.

Rock solid and bone dry — in Fairmont, the lakes are down 2 feet.

This poses a problem for the city of more than 10,000.

“All of our drinking water comes off the lakes here in town, and is running through our water treatment plant,” said Farimont Public Works Director Troy Nemmers.

The city found itself in a conundrum. Plans for a new taxpayer-funded water treatment plant meant water rates went up, while the drought dragged on.

The drought here got so bad, that the city of Fairmont asked the DNR if they could pump more water from the lakes, but the DNR said no.

“We realized the city was already using more (water) than what was allowed under statute,” said Leo Getsfried of the DNR.

It affects those who live around the lake and may impact fisheries and other animals that depend on the lake, too.

To help the issue, the city has banned non-essential water use now for more than six months.

Fairmont, and much of southern Minnesota, now need the help of Mother Nature.

“We’re hoping for some moisture this winter, and coming up this spring,” Nemmers said.

Fairmont may end up using groundwater if the drought gets worse. But the city says that will cost more to treat.

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