Protecting Our Water
Washington County recognizes that groundwater and surface water are among its most valuable resources, providing drinking water, healthy streams and lakes, habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities and economic vitality. Surface water management is primarily provided through Watershed Management Organizations, which operate as special purpose units of government.
Groundwater provides 100% of drinking water for Washington County residents. For many years, the county has provided leadership on groundwater issues. The Department of Public Health and Environment coordinates the county’s efforts in groundwater management and protection, through the 2014-2024 Washington County Groundwater Plan. The Groundwater Plan is a comprehensive document that lays out the technical framework, issues, policies and strategies to address existing and future groundwater related problems. The plan addresses issues related to groundwater quality and groundwater quantity. The county regularly works with local, regional, and state partners on groundwater issues.
See highlights from work accomplished in 2017 and priorities planned for 2018 in the 2017 Accomplishments - 2018 Priorities Report.
The Department of Public Health and Environment operates a number of programs to support protection of groundwater. In addition to various licensing programs which aim to protect groundwater (like Septic Systems and Hazardous Waste Management), the department provides well water testing services, coordinates the Washington County Water Consortium, and administers an abandoned well sealing program.
Silica Sand Mining
For more information about Silica Sand Mining, please visit the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) Silica Sand page.
- Children's Water Festival: An annual festival in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area to educate fourth grade students about water resources.
- Land and Water Legacy: The county works with landowners and organizations to purchase land or interests in land to keep it in natural condition and protect water resources
- EMWREP: A shared education program, supported by over 20 local units of government in the east metro. EMWREP provides education about the impacts of non-point source pollution on local lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater resources and to engage people and communities in projects that will help to protect and improve water quality in the region.
- Washington Conservation District: Provider of conservation projects, technical guidance, and educational services to citizens and local governments.
- Water Management Organizations: Special purpose unit of government that manage surface water resources.
The county receives several grant funds from the State of Minnesota, through an annual Natural Resources Block Grant. See below for recent grant reports.