ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) -- Residents of St. Peter pay high rates for drinking water because it takes extra equipment to remove the unhealthy levels of nitrates present in the southern Minnesota city's groundwater.
When nitrates from agricultural fertilizer seep into drinking water supplies they pose a risk to infants, pregnant women and others. At least two dozen Minnesota communities have unhealthy levels of fertilizer by-products in their groundwater.
Bruce Montgomery with the state Department of Agriculture says there's a proven solution: growing perennial crops in well field areas such as alfalfa, which absorb nitrates. He says farmers are reluctant because they don't think it's as profitable as corn.
But Mike McDuffy at Iowa State University says growing alfalfa may be more profitable than corn for some farmers this year.