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Water access may be coming to Blue Mounds State Park

LUVERNE -- Gov. Mark Dayton's recent signature on a state bonding bill should pave the way for Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne to get access to a new water source, but a question remains: how long will it take?...

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LUVERNE - Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent signature on a state bonding bill should pave the way for Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne to get access to a new water source, but a question remains: how long will it take?

This is the fourth summer visitors to the state park will have to rely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and handwashing - and use of the Luverne Aquatic and Fitness Center for showers - since E. coli bacteria was first discovered in the park’s water system in late May 2014.

On its website, the state park notes showers and sinks will not be turned on, and advises RV campers to fill their freshwater tanks at fill stations in Luverne or Pipestone.

Minnesota State Parks and Trails Southern Regional Manager Kathy Dummer said Thursday that water access to the park is a high priority for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), but she doesn’t know how it ranks in the scope of all of the bonding projects that exist.

The bonding bill included $15 million for the Minnesota DNR, which Dummer noted was less than half of the governor’s request, for asset preservation projects across the state.

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“Unfortunately, there is no shortage of DNR projects throughout the state that can use this funding, but providing Blue Mounds with potable water is a high priority for the department and the highest priority for the Division of Parks and Trails,” Dummer said.

The state park has been in talks with Rock Rapids, Iowa-based DGR Engineering as its water woes continued, and the plan - once funding becomes available - is to connect the state park to Rock County Rural Water (RCRW), which runs approximately three miles “as the crow flies” southwest of the park, said RCRW Manager Brent Hoffmann.

Hoffmann said the length of time needed to construct the pipe - if the DNR opts to move ahead with the work - is uncertain.

“It depends what we find for rock once we get to the state park,” he said. “The first almost two miles is going to be pretty decent to dig.”

The question is the rock - how much of it will be in the way, and how the pipeline can best be maneuvered around or through it.

“It’s not a real long stretch, but there are issues,” Hoffmann said.

Building the pipeline from the existing RCRW line into the park was estimated at $650,000 in 2016, shared Dummer, noting that with the water delivery, the park also needs an upgrade to its in-park water infrastructure. The preliminary cost for that work is another $400,000.

Dummer said the DNR will continue to work with RCRW to coordinate the water delivery project and develop a construction timeline.

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“Although it is hoped work could begin as early as this fall, many factors - including existing project schedules for both organizations and the contractor - will influence construction timelines,” Dummer said.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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