2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:40 AM


BLOOMGREN, Patricia A. and OLSEN, Bruce M., Division of Environmental Health, Minnesota Department of Health, 121 East Seventh Place, St. Paul, MN 55101, bruce.olsen@health.state.mn.us

Approximately one half of Minnesota's five million residents rely on groundwater for drinking. Therefore, protecting the quality and quantity of Minnesota's groundwater resources is a public health as well as an environmental concern.

Dr. Pfannkuch recognized the relationship between hydrogeology and public health protection over 30 years ago when many of the drinking water programs at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) were in their infancy. He supported state regulations for licensing water well contractors and constructing wells. Today, Minnesota has a strong program for ensuring the proper well construction and the sealing of unused wells. Also, he was a strong proponent of making well records available to the public. Today, the County Well Index has approximately 345,000 well records that are available on line.

Wellhead protection integrates hydrogeology with contaminant source management to protect public water supply wells. Dr. Pfannkuch promoted the development of a wellhead protection program in Minnesota in the late 1970's. He briefed MDH staff on how wellhead protection programs were set up in Europe and provided valuable insight into contaminant source management issues. He served on an MDH-sponsored technical advisory team that provided recommendations for delineating wellhead protection areas and assessing aquifer vulnerability to contamination. It can truly be said that Dr. Pfannkuch is one of the original founders of the wellhead protection program in Minnesota.

Public health protection often involves the close cooperation between MDH and local governments. Dr. Pfannkuch has been an advocate of helping local officials use hydrogeologic information to make regulatory decisions that affect groundwater resources. Over the years, he has developed decision-making trees for local official that were precursors to those now used by local wellhead protection teams. He has worked with MDH and counties to identify areas where water wells may be at greatest risk to contamination. He is highly regarded for his efforts to translate hydrogeologic information into formats that can be used effectively by local governments.