September's water crisis brought home to Brainerd residents and businesses what an enormous inconvenience it was to not have ready access to drinkable water.
A broken water line and subsequent drop in water pressure during the first week in September resulted in the city directing consumers to boil tap water before drinking it as a precaution against possible bacteria in the water supply. It was only after Minnesota Department of Health testing was done and the city agreed to chlorinate for a period of time that the precautionary boil order lifted.
While the water boil order was in effect, Brainerd restaurants temporarily discontinued using soda dispensers that were dependent on city water. McDonald's employees had to lug in water from its Baxter locations. The Brainerd School District brought in bottled water to its Brainerd schools. Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center had to take extraordinary measures to make sure it had pure water for its patients.
Access to clean water is a tremendous benefit that most of us who live in developed countries take for granted. Doing without it was a pain and an ordeal most of us would just as soon not repeat.
Still, we're not convinced this is the time for Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) to make chlorination permanent in the water supply. Brainerd draws its water supply from artesian wells, is rightly proud of its good tasting water and most residents would tell you they're not fans of the taste that the temporary chlorination produces. It would be a shame to give up the good tasting, non-chlorinated water Brainerd residents enjoy for the relatively few times when the possibility of bacteria showing up is a concern.
The city temporarily chlorinated its water in 2009 and in 1987 after indicators of possible harmful bacteria. If the BPU's monitoring of the water starts to show more frequent problems with indicators of bacteria the wisdom of a chlorine-free water system may have to be revisited. For now, however, we recommend ending the chlorination when it's safe to do so and keeping a close eye on the water's quality.