RFP for Review of Land Use & Zoning Code


The City of Windom seeks proposals from firms with expertise in the area of municipal land use ordinances who are interested in performing a review of the City’s Land Use Codes: Chapters 151 “Subdivisions” and 152 “Zoning”. A copy of the City’s current codes is on our website at https://windom-mn.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Windom15.pdf.

General Overview

Located in southwestern Minnesota with a population of 4,646, Windom is one hour southwest of Mankato and one-half hour northwest of Worthington.  Windom is located on U.S. Highway 71 and Minnesota State Highway 60.  Windom is a home rule charter city. 

Scope of Services

The City is interested in a contract agreement with a third-party consultant to review and make recommendations on updating the City’s Subdivision and Zoning Codes. Recent residential, commercial and industrial construction projects and proposed developments have required review and consideration of conditional uses and variances for some properties.  The codes have been routinely updated and amended since 2003 when the current code and zoning map were adopted. However, a holistic and comprehensive review is needed to ensure the codes are consistent and meet the current development and construction industry’s standards while maintaining orderly development and compatible land uses for the benefit of the citizens of Windom. It is not the intent of this review to develop new zoning districts or a new zoning map.  Emphasis will be on the permitted and conditional uses listed in each zoning district. 

The completed work product is expected to include proposed revisions/amendments that will be incorporated into Chapters 151 and 152 of the City Code.  Review of these proposed revisions and amendments will be processed through the Planning Commission and City Council by City of Windom Staff and subject to review and approval by the City Attorney.  After City Council approval of proposed revisions/amendments to Chapters 151 and 152, the City will retain other services to codify the revisions.  

The Consultant selected for the code review will be expected to attend the following meetings:  Initial meeting with the Planning Commission to establish the plan and process for the code review, a meeting with the Planning Commission for review of the final draft of proposed revisions to the Code which may include a public hearing, and a presentation of the final draft to the City Council.

Planning Commission’s ExpectationsThe Planning Commission expects that the selected Consultant will work closely with the Building & Zoning Office in its review of Chapters 151 and 152 of the Windom City Code.  The Planning Commission expects that the Consultant will present its recommendations to the Planning Commission in manageable increments (the length of which shall be determined by the Building Official and the Consultant).  The Planning Commission proposes to review the Consultant’s periodic recommendations at its meetings which are held the second Tuesday of each month.  

 Submittal Guidelines

The following guidelines describe the City’s expectations for the format and manner in which proposals are to be submitted by prospective firms. The failure by a prospective firm to follow these guidelines will not necessarily exclude that firm from consideration, but close adherence will be viewed more favorably as the City evaluates proposals. Thus, the submittal guidelines are as follows:

  1. A Proposal of Service which shall include qualified personnel with experience in land use planning, zoning administration, and City Ordinances.  Please include credentials for firm staff who would actually perform the requested services.  
  2. Compensation method and fee chart as applicable;
  3. Estimated fee;
  4. Approximate timeline for the project;
  5. List at least three client references, including the reference’s telephone number and address, to provide the City with an opportunity to contact each reference.   
  6. Proposals should be limited to no more than fifteen pages (8½” X 11” in size).  The Respondent shall submit three (3) hard copies and one (1) electronic copy of the Proposal to the City. 

Submit all Questions and the Proposals to:

City of Windom

Attn: Andrew Spielman, Building Official

444 9th Street, P.O. Box 38

Windom, MN 56101

 Phone:  507-832-8660
E-mail: andrew.spielman@windommn.com

Responses are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 19, 2021.

Selection Process

Responses will be reviewed and evaluated by a designated Committee within two weeks of the response deadline.  No attendance by prospective firms is requested for this meeting.  The Committee will determine which firms to invite to make presentations and the date(s) and times for presentations.  It is anticipated that the presentations will be scheduled for the April 13th Planning Commission Meeting.  The Building & Zoning Office will contact those firms selected for presentations/interviews to confirm the date and time for their presentations.  Firms not selected will also be notified.

Based on the written responses and presentations, the Committee and the Planning Commission will make a recommendation regarding which firm should be selected by the City Council to perform the Code review.  If all of the presentations can be made at the April 13th Meeting, the Planning Commission will forward a recommendation to the City Council for selection of the Consultant at the City Council’s April 20th Meeting.  The City Council will have final approval authority on a contract with the selected firm.  The goal is for the Consultant to begin working with the Building & Zoning Office and Planning Commission in May 2021.

The City reserves the right to reject any or all of the proposals submitted.

 Independent Contractor Status and Insurance Requirements for Selected Consultant

The Consultant shall be acting as an independent contractor and shall not be considered an employee of the City.  The Consultant shall be responsible for its own workers’ compensation insurance and a minimum of $1 Million of liability insurance coverage.  The Consultant must carry errors and omissions insurance of $1 Million per occurrence and $2 Million aggregate.  The insurance coverages shall be in amounts and through companies approved by the City.  The Consultant shall provide the City with copies of the Declaration pages evidencing this insurance prior to commencement of work.

Minnesota Low Income Energy Assistance Program

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program serves both renters and homeowners, providing financial assistance to pay past due energy bills to avoid disconnection, to purchase emergency fuel, or to repair or replace a homeowner’s malfunctioning furnace.

Eligibility is based on the household’s past 3 months of income and assets are not counted. Benefit amounts are based on the household’s heating costs, household size, and income, with an average benefit of roughly $500.

The application period is open until May 31. To determine eligibility or to learn more about the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, visit:







(D)  Recovery of costs.

      (1)  Personal liability.  The owner of the real estate where a nuisance has been abated by the City shall be personally liable for all costs the City incurred to abate the nuisance including, but not limited to, costs (labor and equipment) for removal of items by City Departments and contractors, landfill costs, impounding fees, sheriff’s service fees, court costs, attorneys’ fees, and City’s administrative fees.  As soon as the work has been completed and the costs determined, the City shall prepare an invoice for the costs and mail it to the owner.  Thereupon the amount shall immediately be due and payable at the Office of the City Clerk.


IMPOUND LOT.  A place where inoperable vehicles are stored temporarily pending their disposition.  (See § 152.477.)

VEHICLE WRECKING.  Any place where two or more vehicles not in running condition and/or not licensed are stored in the open and are not being restored to operation or any land, building or structure used for wrecking/towing or storing of the motor vehicles.   


JUNK YARD/SALVAGE YARD.  Land or buildings where waste, discarded or salvaged materials    (including vehicles) are bought, sold, exchanged, stored, salvaged, scavenged, scrapped, disassembled, cleaned, packed, or handled.  Products include, but are not limited to, scrap metal, rags, paper, hides, rubber products, glass products, lumber products and/or products resulting from the salvaging or scrapping of vehicles. (See also Chapter 113.)



A storage location for inoperable vehicles (“impound lot”) shall be allowed as a conditional use only in the I-1 or I-2 Zoning Districts and shall be subject to the following:

        (A)  Use of the impound lot shall be limited to a business providing vehicle wrecker services and towing of vehicles.

        (B)  Storage of inoperable vehicles shall be permitted only as temporary storage for the time period required to conclude any insurance or legal proceedings or disposal arrangements in connection with each specific vehicle.

        (C)  No scrapping, dismantling, or salvage of vehicles or vehicle parts shall be allowed.

        (D)  The business owner and/or property owner shall be responsible for (1) compliance with any requirements of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and, if applicable, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources concerning vehicle fluids and hazardous substances; and (2) shall verify the proximity of the proposed impound lot in relation to the City’s drinking water sources management area.

        (E)  The storage area shall be kept in a neat and orderly condition. 

        (F)  The storage area shall be enclosed by a fence. The location, type, and height of fencing and/or screening shall be set forth in the conditional use permit granted by the City Council for the specific property.

(G)  The City Council may add additional conditions to the conditional use permit as deemed advisable, such as a limitation on hours of operation, depending on the location of the conditional use.


(A) Vehicle wrecking or junk yard/salvage yard (See also Chapter 113); 


       (C)  Impound lot for storage of inoperable vehicles (vehicle wrecking) per § 152.477; and

       (D)  All other uses not listed in § 152.151.   Other uses similar in nature to those uses listed in this section and which in the opinion of the City Planning Commission will not be detrimental to the integrity of the district.


      (H)  Impound lot for storage of inoperable vehicles (vehicle wrecking) per § 152.477; and

       (I)  Other uses similar in nature to those uses listed in this section and which in the opinion of the City Planning Commission will not be detrimental to the integrity of the district.


  • Each residential lot on which a principal dwelling has been constructed shall be allowed an accessory building(s) pursuant to the provisions set forth herein. All accessory buildings shall require a permit from the City. 

      (G)  No accessory building or structure, other than a fence or temporary construction, may be
constructed prior to the time of construction of the principal building or structure on the lot except if the provisions set forth in Section 152.329 are applicable.


(D) The license will be valid for a three-year period except as provided in Subsections (F) and (G) of this Section.  An application for renewal of the license must be submitted between January 1st and March 31st of the renewal year.

(E)  For purposes of licensing and inspection of rental housing properties, three Zones have been established in the City of Windom.  Zone One includes properties lying south of Ninth Street extended westerly to the west boundary of the Windom City Limits.  The north/south dividing line between Zones 2 and 3 is Fourth Avenue beginning at Ninth Street and continuing northward, joining Sixth Avenue north of 20th Street, and continuing to Highway 71 North.  Zone Two includes properties lying north of Ninth Street and east of the north/south dividing line.  Zone Three includes properties lying north of Ninth Street (as extended westerly) and west of the north/south dividing line.

(F)  After adoption of the rental housing ordinance by the City Council, all properties converted to or constructed as new rental units must be inspected and licensed prior to being occupied.   Renewal dates will be assigned that correspond to the Zone in which the property is located.  The license fee for the initial license term shall be prorated pursuant to the fee schedule adopted by the City Council.  If the application for a rental housing license is received within the second year of the license term for that Zone, the license fee shall be two-thirds of the fee for a three-year license term. If the application for a rental housing license is received within the third year of the license term, the license fee shall be one-third of the fee for a three-year license term. 

(G)  If a rental property is sold, the new owner shall submit a Rental Housing License Application to the City’s Building & Zoning Office within thirty (30) days of the closing on the property.  The existing rental housing license will be assigned from the previous owner to the new owner for the remainder of the license term.   No inspection or fees will be required to assign/transfer a rental license.

(H)  Complaints…


      (D)  In the event that a rental property is sold and the existing rental license is assigned to the new owner [Section 150.55(G)], the property will not be subject to a rental inspection for the remainder of the license term unless a complaint is received.

(E)  In the event of a pandemic (such as occurred in 2020) or natural or manmade disasters occurring in Windom including, but not limited to, tornado, flooding, fire, etc., which prevent or delay timely inspections of the rental properties in the Zone requiring licensing/relicensing that year, the licensing/relicensing deadline for that Zone may be extended and the deadline for relicensing properties in the other two Zones may be extended at the option of the City Council.


  • The sale of a licensed rental property may be exempt from another rental inspection during that license term pursuant to Section 150.56(D).
  • A property owner may be entitled to an exemption ….


(H)  If the property owner fails to pay the license or renewal fees, re-inspection fees, the fines specified at § 150.55(H), the fines specified at § 150.58(E), ….


EFFECTIVE DATE OF ORDINANCE.  This ordinance becomes effective from and after its passage and publication.

Adopted by the City Council of the City of Windom, Minnesota, this 16th day of February, 2021.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Dominic Jones, Mayor



            Steve Nasby, City Administrator

1st Reading:      February 2, 2021

2nd Reading:    February 16, 2021

Adoption:        February 16, 2021

Published:        February 24, 2021


Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP): Windom Rec Area & Cottonwood Lake Drive

Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP): Windom Rec Area & Cottonwood Lake Drive


The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is a competitive grant opportunity for local communities and regional agencies to fund projects for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation, Safe Routes to School and more.  The potential grant can cover 80 percent of the total project costs, so a 20 percent match is required.  The City submitted a Letter of Intent for a project to increase pedestrian connectivity between the Windom Recreation Area, Community Center, Tegels Park, and the residential neighborhood.  There are 5 possible segments for this TAP Application.  

Community members can provide direction regarding the potential scope of the project.  Please complete the Windom TAP Survey and provide input to City Staff and Elected Officials. 

Maps of 5 Possible Segments Transportation Alternatives Program – Attachments 1


Please complete the Windom TAP Survey:



Hwy 60 Windom Corridor Study – Virtual Open House


Monday November 9, 2020
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Virtual Meeting



Wolf Lake Connection Trail Plan

Wolf Lake Connection Trail Plan – Public Review
In June 2019, the City of Windom began a trail planning process for the Connection Trail from the City of Windom to the Wings on the Prairie Discovery Center at Wolf Lake Waterfowl Production Area, a property of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Please click on the link below to view the Final Wolf Lake Trail Plan

(final plan – click this link to view the plan)

Executive Summary:
The Wolf Lake Connection Trail Plan is a summary of possible routes based on a community planning process. The preferred trail route is shown in the map and is the product of a nine month community engagement process whereby the Windom Community was provided multiple opportunities to provide their input. When surveyed, residents of Windom responded with broad support for a connection trail to Wolf Lake. Important goals for the Wolf Lake Connection Trail:
• The Wolf Lake Connection Trail aims to utilize national, state, and local grant monies for design and construction.
• The Wolf Lake Connection Trail will be a multi-use, accessible, recreation trail that will provide a safe connection to a nearby and ecologically significant asset.
• The Wolf Lake Connection Trail can be expected to provide numerous economic and health benefits to existing and future residents of Windom.
• The Wolf Lake Connection Trail will be an attraction and retention tool for new residents and businesses.

Background Information:
The Windom Comprehensive Plan outlined a goal to establish a connection trail between the City of Windom and the Windom Wetland Management District. The Windom Wetland Management District includes the Wolf Lake Nature Area and the Wings on the Prairie Discovery Center. The Wings on the Prairie Discovery Center is unique for US Fish & Wildlife and features a visitor center, nature trail for exploring, wildlife observation platforms, interpretive signs, and hands-on displays.

The Wolf Lake Nature Area includes the Wolf Lake Nature Trail which is a quarter mile paved trail located within the Windom Wetlands Management District. USFW also maintains mowed grass paths on the property. These are local and regional assets.

The Wolf Lake Trail Plan will help to achieve the next steps outlined in the Comprehensive Plan under the goal to establish a connection trail between the City of Windom and the Windom Wetland Management District. A connection trail is likely dependent on a grant to support the project.

Next Steps:
• Adoption of trail plan by Windom City Council.
• Add the cost of the preferred route into the City’s Capital Improvement Plan to provide a match for a grant. Within five years of the completion of the Connection Trail Plan, funding will need to be secured for trail construction.
• Identify any of the needed right-of-way along the preferred route.
• Apply for grants through Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Other grant opportunities will be explored from both traditional public and private sources.

2020 Street Project Information

2020 Street Project Construction Newsletters


Sidewalk Closure – Due to Elementary School Project

Important information regarding the 17th Street area and sidewalk south of the new elementary school construction site:

On Monday May 4, 2020, the construction crews working on the new elementary school project will be closing the sidewalk on the North side of 17th Street to complete dirt work and landscaping. Barricades will be placed stating sidewalk is closed at 9th St. and at the West end of the School parking lot. No parking will be allowed on the South side of 17th Street to allow pedestrian traffic to use the South side to pass through the work zone. The sidewalk will reopen when they are finished with the landscape work in July.

Consumer Confidence Report

Windom 2019 Drinking Water Report

This report contains important information about your drinking water. Have someone translate it for you, or speak with someone who understands it.

Información importante.  Si no la entiende, haga que alguien se la traduzca ahora.

Making Safe Drinking Water

Your drinking water comes from a groundwater source: eight wells ranging from 87 to 142 feet deep, that draw water from the Quaternary Buried Unconfined, Quaternary Buried Artesian and Quaternary Water Table aquifers.

Windom works hard to provide you with safe and reliable drinking water that meets federal and state water quality requirements. The purpose of this report is to provide you with information on your drinking water and how to protect our precious water resources.

Contact Glenn Lund, Water\Wastewater Superintendent, at 507-831-6138 or Glenn.Lund@windommn.com if you have questions about Windom’s drinking water. You can also ask for information about how you can take part in decisions that may affect water quality.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets safe drinking water standards. These standards limit the amounts of specific contaminants allowed in drinking water. This ensures that tap water is safe to drink for most people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the amount of certain contaminants in bottled water. Bottled water must provide the same public health protection as public tap water.

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1‑800‑426‑4791.

Windom Monitoring Results

This report contains our monitoring results from January 1 to December 31, 2019.

We work with the Minnesota Department of Health to test drinking water for more than 100 contaminants. It is not unusual to detect contaminants in small amounts. No water supply is ever completely free of contaminants. Drinking water standards protect Minnesotans from substances that may be harmful to their health.

Learn more by visiting the Minnesota Department of Health’s webpage Basics of Monitoring and testing of Drinking Water in Minnesota (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/factsheet/sampling.html).

How to Read the Water Quality Data Tables

The tables below show the contaminants we found last year or the most recent time we sampled for that contaminant. They also show the levels of those contaminants and the Environmental Protection Agency’s limits. Substances that we tested for but did not find are not included in the tables.

We sample for some contaminants less than once a year because their levels in water are not expected to change from year to year. If we found any of these contaminants the last time we sampled for them, we included them in the tables below with the detection date.

We may have done additional monitoring for contaminants that are not included in the Safe Drinking Water Act. To request a copy of these results, call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4700 or 1-800-818-9318 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


  • AL (Action Level): The concentration of a contaminant which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements which a water system must follow.
  • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
  • MCL (Maximum contaminant level): The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology.
  • MCLG (Maximum contaminant level goal): The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety.
  • MRDL (Maximum residual disinfectant level): The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.
  • MRDLG (Maximum residual disinfectant level goal): The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.
  • N/A (Not applicable): Does not apply.
  • ppb (parts per billion): One part per billion in water is like one drop in one billion drops of water, or about one drop in a swimming pool. ppb is the same as micrograms per liter (μg/l).
  • ppm (parts per million): One part per million is like one drop in one million drops of water, or about one cup in a swimming pool. ppm is the same as milligrams per liter (mg/l).
  • PWSID: Public water system identification.

Monitoring Results – Regulated Substances

LEAD AND COPPER – Tested at customer taps.

Contaminant (Date, if sampled in previous year)

EPA’s Ideal Goal (MCLG)

EPA’s Action Level

90% of Results Were Less Than

Number of Homes with High Levels


Typical Sources


0 ppb

90% of homes less than 15 ppb

1.9 ppb

0 out of 19


Corrosion of household plumbing.


0 ppm

90% of homes less than 1.3 ppm

1.02 ppm

0 out of 19


Corrosion of household plumbing.

Potential Health Effects and Corrective Actions (If Applicable)

Copper/Lead: During the year, we failed to take a sample and/or submit information on lead and copper during the required testing period(s) of 06/01/19 to 09/30/19.  Because we did not monitor or failed to monitor completely during the compliance period(s), we did not know whether lead or copper was present in your drinking water, and we are unable to tell you whether your health was at risk during this time.

INORGANIC & ORGANIC CONTAMINANTS – Tested in drinking water.

Contaminant (Date, if sampled in previous year)

EPA’s Ideal Goal (MCLG)

EPA’s Limit (MCL)

Highest Average or Highest Single Test Result

Range of Detected Test Results


Typical Sources


10 ppm

10.4 ppm

0.88 ppm



Runoff from fertilizer use; Leaching from septic tanks, sewage; Erosion of natural deposits.


2 ppm

2 ppm

0.21 ppm



Discharge of drilling wastes; Discharge from metal refineries; Erosion of natural deposit.


Substance (Date, if sampled in previous year)

EPA’s Ideal Goal (MCLG or MRDLG)

EPA’s Limit (MCL or MRDL)

Highest Average or Highest Single Test Result

Range of Detected Test Results


Typical Sources

Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)


80 ppb

21 ppb



By-product of drinking water disinfection.

Total Haloacetic Acids (HAA)


60 ppb

8.2 ppb



By-product of drinking water disinfection.

Total Chlorine

4.0 ppm

4.0 ppm

1.15 ppm

0.30 – 2.12 ppm


Water additive used to control microbes.

Total HAA refers to HAA5

OTHER SUBSTANCES – Tested in drinking water.

Substance (Date, if sampled in previous year)

EPA’s Ideal Goal (MCLG)

EPA’s Limit (MCL)

Highest Average or Highest Single Test Result

Range of Detected Test Results


Typical Sources


4.0 ppm

4.0 ppm

0.69 ppm

0.64 – 0.77 ppm


Erosion of natural deposits; Water additive to promote strong teeth.

Potential Health Effects and Corrective Actions (If Applicable)

Fluoride:   Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter, with small amounts present naturally in many drinking water sources. There is an overwhelming weight of credible, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that fluoridation reduces tooth decay and cavities in children and adults, even when there is availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses. Since studies show that optimal fluoride levels in drinking water benefit public health, municipal community water systems adjust the level of fluoride in the water to a concentration between 0.5 to 1.5 parts per million (ppm), with an optimal fluoridation goal between 0.7 and 1.2 ppm to protect your teeth. Fluoride levels below 2.0 ppm are not expected to increase the risk of a cosmetic condition known as enamel fluorosis.



Monitoring Results – Unregulated Substances

In addition to testing drinking water for contaminants regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, we sometimes also monitor for contaminants that are not regulated. Unregulated contaminants do not have legal limits for drinking water.

Detection alone of a regulated or unregulated contaminant should not cause concern. The meaning of a detection should be determined considering current health effects information.  We are often still learning about the health effects, so this information can change over time.

The following table shows the unregulated contaminants we detected last year, as well as human-health based guidance values for comparison, where available. The comparison values are based only on potential health impacts and do not consider our ability to measure contaminants at very low concentrations or the cost and technology of prevention and/or treatment. They may be set at levels that are costly, challenging, or impossible for water systems to meet (for example, large-scale treatment technology may not exist for a given contaminant).

A person drinking water with a contaminant at or below the comparison value would be at little or no risk for harmful health effects. If the level of a contaminant is above the comparison value, people of a certain age or with special health conditions – like a fetus, infants, children, elderly, and people with impaired immunity – may need to take extra precautions. Because these contaminants are unregulated, EPA and MDH require no particular action based on detection of an unregulated contaminant. We are notifying you of the unregulated contaminants we have detected as a public education opportunity.

▪            More information is available on MDH’s A-Z List of Contaminants in Water (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/contaminants/index.html) and Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/com/ucmr4.html).

UNREGULATED CONTAMINANTS – Tested in drinking water.


Comparison Value

Highest Average Result or Highest Single Test Result

Range of Detected Test Results


20 ppm

14.1 ppm



500 ppm

69 ppm


*Note that home water softening can increase the level of sodium in your water.

Some People Are More Vulnerable to Contaminants in Drinking Water

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. The developing fetus and therefore pregnant women may also be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water. These people or their caregivers should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1‑800‑426‑4791.

Learn More about Your Drinking Water

Drinking Water Sources

Minnesota’s primary drinking water sources are groundwater and surface water. Groundwater is the water found in aquifers beneath the surface of the land. Groundwater supplies 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water. Surface water is the water in lakes, rivers, and streams above the surface of the land. Surface water supplies 25 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water.

Contaminants can get in drinking water sources from the natural environment and from people’s daily activities. There are five main types of contaminants in drinking water sources.

  • Microbial contaminants, such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Sources include sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, pets, and wildlife.
  • Inorganic contaminants include salts and metals from natural sources (e.g. rock and soil), oil and gas production, mining and farming operations, urban stormwater runoff, and wastewater discharges.
  • Pesticides and herbicides are chemicals used to reduce or kill unwanted plants and pests. Sources include agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and commercial and residential properties.
  • Organic chemical contaminants include synthetic and volatile organic compounds. Sources include industrial processes and petroleum production, gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems.
  • Radioactive contaminants such as radium, thorium, and uranium isotopes come from natural sources (e.g. radon gas from soils and rock), mining operations, and oil and gas production.

The Minnesota Department of Health provides information about your drinking water source(s) in a source water assessment, including:

  • How Windom is protecting your drinking water source(s);
  • Nearby threats to your drinking water sources;
  • How easily water and pollution can move from the surface of the land into drinking water sources, based on natural geology and the way wells are constructed.

Find your source water assessment at Source Water Assessments (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/swp/swa) or call 651-201-4700 or 1-800-818-9318 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Lead in Drinking Water

You may be in contact with lead through paint, water, dust, soil, food, hobbies, or your job. Coming in contact with lead can cause serious health problems for everyone. There is no safe level of lead. Babies, children under six years, and pregnant women are at the highest risk.

Lead is rarely in a drinking water source, but it can get in your drinking water as it passes through lead service lines and your household plumbing system. Windom is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but it cannot control the plumbing materials used in private buildings.

Read below to learn how you can protect yourself from lead in drinking water.

  1. Let the water run for 30-60 seconds before using it for drinking or cooking if the water has not been turned on in over six hours. If you have a lead service line, you may need to let the water run longer. A service line is the underground pipe that brings water from the main water pipe under the street to your home.
    • You can find out if you have a lead service line by contacting your public water system, or you can check by following the steps at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/06/24/npr-find-lead-pipes-in-your-home
    • The only way to know if lead has been reduced by letting it run is to check with a test. If letting the water run does not reduce lead, consider other options to reduce your exposure.
  2. Use cold water for drinking, making food, and making baby formula. Hot water releases more lead from pipes than cold water.
  3. Test your water. In most cases, letting the water run and using cold water for drinking and cooking should keep lead levels low in your drinking water. If you are still concerned about lead, arrange with a laboratory to test your tap water. Testing your water is important if young children or pregnant women drink your tap water.
  4. Treat your water if a test shows your water has high levels of lead after you let the water run.

Learn more:



Help Protect Our Most Precious Resource – Water


Conservation is essential, even in the land of 10,000 lakes. For example, in parts of the metropolitan area, groundwater is being used faster than it can be replaced. Some agricultural regions in Minnesota are vulnerable to drought, which can affect crop yields and municipal water supplies.

We must use our water wisely. Below are some tips to help you and your family conserve – and save money in the process.

▪            Fix running toilets—they can waste hundreds of gallons of water.

▪            Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.

▪            Shower instead of bathe. Bathing uses more water than showering, on average.

▪            Only run full loads of laundry, and set the washing machine to the correct water level.

▪            Only run the dishwasher when it’s full.

▪            Use water-efficient appliances (look for the WaterSense label).

▪            Use water-friendly landscaping, such as native plants.

▪            When you do water your yard, water slowly, deeply, and less frequently. Water early in the morning and close to the ground.

▪            Learn more

▪            Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Conserving Water webpage (https://www.pca.state.mn.us/living-green/conserving-water)

▪            U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense webpage (https://www.epa.gov/watersense)

Home Water Treatment

Reduce Backflow at Cross Connections

Bacteria and chemicals can enter the drinking water supply from polluted water sources in a process called backflow. Backflow occurs at connection points between drinking water and non-drinking water supplies (cross connections) due to water pressure differences.

For example, if a person sprays an herbicide with a garden hose, the herbicide could enter the home’s plumbing and then enter the drinking water supply. This could happen if the water pressure in the hose is greater than the water pressure in the home’s pipes.

Property owners can help prevent backflow. Pay attention to cross connections, such as garden hoses.

The Minnesota Department of Health and American Water Works Association recommend the following:

▪            Do not submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs, or sinks.

▪            Keep the end of hoses clear of possible contaminants.

▪            Do not use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device. Attach these devices to threaded faucets. Such devices are inexpensive and available at hardware stores.

▪            Use a licensed plumber to install backflow prevention devices.

▪            Maintain air gaps between hose outlets and liquids. An air gap is a vertical space between the water outlet and the flood level of a fixture (e.g. the space between a wall-mounted faucet and the sink rim). It must be at least twice the diameter of the water supply outlet, and at least one inch.

▪            Commercial property owners should develop a plan for flushing or cleaning water systems to minimize the risk of drawing contaminants into uncontaminated areas.


The Pros and Cons of Home Water Softening

When considering whether to use a water softener, contact your public water system to find out if you have hard water. Many systems treat for hardness, making water softeners unnecessary.

Water softeners are a water treatment device. They remove water hardness (dissolved calcium and magnesium). Water softeners must be installed and maintained properly to be safe and effective. Learn more at Home Water Softening (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/factsheet/softening.html).

The benefits of soft water include:

▪            Increased efficiency for soaps and detergents.

▪            Reduction in mineral staining on fixtures and in pipes.

▪            A potential increase in the lifespan of water heaters.

The drawbacks of soft water include:

▪            Operation and maintenance costs.

▪            More sodium. People on low-sodium diets should consult a doctor if they plan to regularly consume softened water.

▪            The production of salt brine as a byproduct. This can have negative effects at wastewater treatment plants and on ecosystems. Reduce the amount of salt brine used or install a salt-free system.