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University of Minnesota Extension

"Nibi: our water our life"

Everyone on the Leech Lake Reservation relies on ground water for our drinking water.


Therefore, it is critical to our health and wellbeing to make sure there are safe, sustainable quantities of ground water available now and in the future.

There can be big differences in the cleanliness, quality and safety of drinking water sources.

What is regulated drinking water? Elements of safe drinking water protection? Elements of safe drinking water protection

The Leech Lake Band is responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act and safeguarding the quality of drinking water for community systems.

Regulated community water supplies include:

  • Ball Club
  • Bena
  • Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig Schools
  • Cass Lake West Side Acres
  • Inger
  • Oak Point
  • Old Agency
  • Northern Lights Casino
  • Palace Casino & Hotel
  • Plantation
  • Tract 33

What is unregulated drinking water?

Most Reservation residents rely on private wells for drinking water. When a new well is put into service, well contractors are required to have a water sample tested for bacteria, nitrate, and arsenic; after that the homeowner is responsible for periodic well testing.

Wells should be tested for nitrates, bacteria, and arsenic every two years as indicators of possible contamination.

Households with pregnant women, an infant or someone with a compromised immune system may want to test drinking water annually. It is also important to have your water tested if there is a change in its taste, odor, or appearance.

Other sources of unregulated drinking water include:

  • Flowing wells
  • Artesian wells
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Streams

It is never advisable to use drinking water from these unregulated sources.

Keep water clean

  • Wash hands before collecting water
  • Clean container regularly
  • Keep water off floor and away from animals
  • Pour water without touching mouth of the container
  • Use a long-handled dipper to serve water

Safe water hauling practices

Hauling, handling, and storing water in ways that keep it clean, safe, and usable are important.

Safe storage containers are easily found and bought on the internet, at large convenience stores, sporting good or military supply stores, and even some supermarkets.

Safe water storage containers should:

  • Hold between 2-8 gallons
  • Be durable, easy to clean, and well insulated
  • Contain only water or other items fit for human consumption
  • Have a spigot and small closable opening to prevent contamination
  • Made of UV resistant high density food grade polyethylene
  • Withstand temperatures of 180°F
  • FDA, USDA, or NSF approved
  • Be cleaned and disinfected often

How to clean containers

  • Fully drain before cleaning
  • Scrub the inside with a cleaning rag, soft bristle broom or small stone; with a solution of chlorinated water or soap and water
  • Clean exterior with a cloth and soap or chlorine solution, especially around openings
  • Rinse with drinking water to remove cleanser residue

Safe water storage containers

Safe water storage containers should NOT have either of these symbols on them.

For more information

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