City maintenance crew foreman Tony Lammers, Chatfield's water superintendent Brian Burkholder, and Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young are proud to show the wellhead protection award the city received. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
City maintenance crew foreman Tony Lammers, Chatfield's water superintendent Brian Burkholder, and Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young are proud to show the wellhead protection award the city received. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
And the 2014 Rural Water Source Water Protection Award nominees are...Glenwood, Paynesville and Chatfield!

The city of Chatfield was one of three cities in Minnesota to be nominated for the award presented by Minnesota Rural Water. Nominated by the organization's representative, Robin Hoerr, Chatfield's water superintendent Brian Burkholder accepted the award on behalf of the city during the water conference held March 4 to 6 in St. Cloud.

Burkholder explained that the city was nominated for its efforts that benefitted the protection of the city's drinking water.

He explained the award is given to cities that have taken measures to protect the water that flows through their water systems - from the stream to the spigot and back again - and that Chatfield has been proactive in its mission to do so.

"We started a wellhead protection program in 2007," Burkholder explained. "Every city in Minnesota is required to go through it to protect drinking water."

Burkholder listed the efforts the city has made to ensure that its residents have clean water coming into their homes and fresh water flowing through the local streams.

Those include sealing wells and cisterns, holding septic maintenance clinics and providing free nitrate sampling. Burkholder also said the city hosts a yearly fourth grade poster contest and presents information to the students about drinking water safety through that program. The city also does hazardous waste pickup and storm water protection through ag management, chemical application awareness and provides information about the affects of lawn care and chemicals.

He observed, "I think the reason we got this award was that we sealed the first well in Chatfield - it was dug in 1894 - and we also sealed the creamery wells that were at the old creamery, what is now the Alliant building."

In 1976, the Department of Health flagged the city and felt the issues resulted from cross contamination in that old well.

Burkholder explained, that in the process of sealing the first well, the city was able to locate the two large creamery wells, which were also sealed.

"There was grant money from the state of Minnesota that we applied for and received, and it was for use only for wellhead protection," he said. "We also sealed a well for someone on Avenue A who didn't have the funds to take care of one on their property."

Burkholder is proud to have received the award for the city, as he feels it shows Chatfield's high standards and also because it illustrates to citizens that while the water comes faithfully from their kitchen and bathroom faucets, there is work that takes place daily to make that happen.

Burkholder also pointed out that while most people rely on electricity to carry out their routines, most can make do without it if necessary. When the faucet runs dry due to a broken main or any other problem, there's certain frustration, he said.

Burkholder hopes that with further education - like he does when teaching Chatfield Elementary School fourth graders - the public will appreciate even more that having cool, clear water comes with taking care of natural resources.

Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health awarded Chatfield a Water Fluoridation Quality Award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride in the drinking water supply to a level that safely and effectively reduces tooth decay and promotes good oral health.

The award recognizes those communities that maintained a consistent level of optimally fluoridated water throughout 2012. Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the CDC as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

The CDC recommends water fluoridation as a safe, effective and inexpensive method of preventing tooth decay. In fact, every $1 invested in fluoridation saves approximately $38 in costs for dental treatment.

Burkholder concluded that he feels fortunate to show off both awards and hopes the city's continued wellhead protection efforts result in clean, happy people and healthy fishing streams that coexist "well" together.