Another round of tests ordered for Brainerd water
Another round of tests has been ordered in an effort to end the water boil order issued for the city of Brainerd. If the 40 new tests all come back negative for bacteria, the city can lift its water boil order, the Minnesota Department of Health ...
Another round of tests has been ordered in an effort to end the water boil order issued for the city of Brainerd.
If the 40 new tests all come back negative for bacteria, the city can lift its water boil order, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said.
Per the agreement, the city will then have to chlorinate its water for 30 days.
At an emergency meeting Monday, the Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Commission unanimously agreed to the terms given by MDH.
Bacteria was found Friday in one of the 12 tests conducted on Brainerd's drinking water system, prompting the water boil order until further notice, as well as a system-wide chlorination.
The test was conducted after a drop in water pressure that resulted from a broken water line near Kiwanis Park and prevented the water tower at the site of the former Brainerd State Hospital from filling overnight. That water tower, which holds 750,000 gallons, is being used because the city's main water tower, located near downtown and which holds 1 million gallons, is out of commision while it's being worked on.
The water boil order was originally expected to last a week minimum, but in an effort to get businesses up and running and residents' daily routines back, MDH offered the option that was approved by the commission Monday, said BPU Superintendent Scott Magnuson.
"This would be huge for the town," he said of getting the boil order lifted.
Half of the tests will be performed by BPU and the other half will be done by MDH.
At Monday's emergency BPU meeting, there was little discussion by the commission on the motion to allow 30 days of chlorination, pending the test results coming back negative for bacteria.
If the 30-day chlorination does happen, that could be extended a few more days until the main water tower is operating again, the commissioners agreed.
The results of the 40 new tests are expected 24 hours after the last sample is taken, which will be sometime Monday evening. Come Tuesday night, officials will know if there is still bacteria in the city's water.
If the boil alert is lifted and the city does chlorinate the water supply for 30 days, officials will cut back to normal amounts of chlorine, Magnuson said.
Right now, three parts per billion is being used. The normal amount is one part per billion.
"That's a significant amount of time with chlorine in there," Magnuson said. "A month worth of chlorine would kill any bacteria hiding out."
At the next regular meeting of the BPU Commission, officials will discuss the idea of possible permanent chlorination of the city's water.
In the meantime, Magnuson will research the issue more.
Commission member Don Samuelson said, "There's no desire by most of the board members to permanently chlorinate (the water). Certainly not the citizens of the city."
The city attorney will also read through the city charter to determine if permanent use of chlorine in city water would require an action from city council, or what city government body would have the final say.
Brainerd has the largest unchlorinated drinking water system in the state.
For more than three decades, the state has been trying to get city officials to change that.
The state can't force Brainerd to permanently chlorinate its water, but MDH strongly recommends it.
One pipe on Riverside Drive does get bleach put in.
Baxter has utilized chlorination since the first water treatment plant in the city was built in 1979.
BPU has chlorinated the water system at least twice in the past, once in 2009 following a positive test for total coliform bacteria near a construction site and once in 1987.
While total coliform bacteria itself is harmless, it can be an indicator of the presence of more harmful bacteria, such as the pathogen E. coli. No E. coli has been found in the system in Friday's tests.
For more information on the boil order or chlorination, go to www.bpu.org , or refer to www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/water/factsheet/emergency/index.html for factsheets on drinking water advisories. General guidelines regarding water quality safety are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.
Free bottles of water will be handed out from 8 a.m.- noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday at The Salvation Army, 208 S. Fifth St., in the alley. The 10 pallets of water were donated by Wal-Mart.
Non-fluorinated, non-chlorinated tap water is available 24/7 at BPU's water plant. Just bring a clean jug.
What a boil order means:
Bring water to a boil before drinking or cooking with it (water should be boiled before food is added).
It's OK to shower and wash clothes with the water without boiling it first.