Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The City of New Munich recently sealed an unused well at the former Pitzl Brewing Company that posed a serious health and safety threat to its residents if left unsealed. Mayor, Harold Klaphake requested the assistance of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to help seal the unused well. Keith Donabauer, a well inspector for the MDH, stated "this was the most dangerous cistern well I have ever seen." The exposed well posed an obvious safety threat for people, pets and wildlife if they were to fall into the well and could have led to contamination of the cities public water supply. The vulnerable nature of the well prompted SWCD Chair Chuck Uphoff to recommend taking the necessary actions to seal the well. The brewery, originally established in 1875 by John Froehler & Son, was shut down during the prohibition era and has been left abandoned ever since. The deteriorating building, with bordered up windows and walls caving in show the hardship the brewery has faced over the years. The water used to produce Pitzl beer was collected in the hand dug cistern well, that was approximately 12 feet wide and 18 feet deep. The well, located underneath the existing parking lot, was connected by a tunnel system that once led to other buildings on the site. Today there is only one building left and the risk to the public water supply has been resolved, thanks to the city recognizing and addressing the potential concern. The geological conditions of the area and vulnerability of the public water supply, prompted the MDH to assist in the development of a Wellhead Protection Plan for the City of New Munich. The vulnerability assessment of the drinking water supply management area (DWSMA) indicates that an effective confining layer of clay-rich till does not exist between land surface and the aquifer. As a result, the aquifer that supplies the City of New Munich wells is vulnerable to contamination from normal land uses, such as fertilizer and pesticide use. The city adopted the Wellhead Protection Plan in 2003. It is the hope of the city that through the implementation of the wellhead protection plan citizen's will become more knowledgeable about how land use activities may impact their drinking water supply and take the necessary steps to protect the quality of groundwater currently enjoyed by residents. The Stearns County SWCD, Urban Conservationist Carrie Raber, provided technical assistance and applied for grants on behalf of the city to help fund the sealing of the well. Cost share assistance was received from the Stearns County SWCD and the Stearns County Local Water Management funds as a result of the grant applications. The Minnesota Department of Health was instrumental in providing technical assistance. Mayor Klaphake expressed that partnerships are essential for completing projects of this size in small communities like New Munich. Kelly Thiclen, New Munich City Clerk, stated "The city of New Munich would like to take this time to say thank you "Carrie". She helped me with any paperwork or forms that needed to be completed. She applied for the grant on behalf of the city to help fund the sealing of the well. The well would not have been sealed at this time without Carrie's help." All programs and services are available without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status. Questions can be directed to Carrie Raber with the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District at (320) 251-7800, ext. 3 or the Minnesota Department of Health at (320) 223-7300.