To the Editor,
To move the Minnesota Well Owners mission to ensure drinking water safety, it is not helpful to cast blame. We know why drinking water is unsafe, and we know exactly how this happens, but the narrative cycles of blame are punitive, and today, the stories about blame are more popular than working together to find a solution. When we have bad drinking water and are all threatened with harm and we direct our attention to finding who is at blame. We are angry at finding ourselves powerless to change.
With our contaminated aquifers trending to have higher nitrates and with our continued reliance on old wells, we have compounded our risk by failing to test and treat our drinking water at our own kitchen sink. Private well owners blame the farmers or “industrial ag,” and the farmers blame the owners of old wells for bad drinking water. We all avoid our responsibilities.
Both casting blame and self-blame for our unsafe drinking water keep us stuck in the past. We seem stuck in a pattern of being blameful or blaming ourselves, and for 50 years, we have not moved ahead to solve the problem in the karst of southeast Minnesota.
To solve this problem, we need to avoid blame and shift our energies to how we take responsibility for our groundwater. Taking responsibility is the path to solving our problems. If we make this change, the problem and the solution to our drinking water become our responsibility, and progress can begin.
The November USEPA order to address the imminent health risk of nitrate-contaminated drinking water in the karst of SE MN is a wake-up call: Cut the blame and solve these problems together.
St. Charles, Minn.