Chlorine to be added to Brainerd water

Chlorine will be added to Brainerd's water system late Saturday afternoon to combat contamination that may have occurred due to a water main break Thursday.

Red Cross volunteer Tina Jay hands bottled water to Brainerd residents Saturday at the Brainerd City Hall parking lot. Super America donated 1800 cases of water and it was handed out by volunteers from the fire department, Salvation Army and Red Cross volunteers. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Chlorine will be added to Brainerd's water system late Saturday afternoon to combat contamination that may have occurred due to a water main break Thursday.

Brainerd Public Utilities officials reported Friday that of 12 tests done on Brainerd's water system, one returned back positive for bacteria, prompting a water boil order for a minimum of one week or until further notice and a meeting with Minnesota Department of Health officials on Saturday.

Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Superintendent Scott Magnuson said chlorination will start about 5 p.m. on Saturday. He said the response is similar to 2009, when Brainerd added chlorine to its water distribution system after total coliform bacteria was found in water samples near a construction site in the city.

"That's the drill," Magnuson said Saturday afternoon.

While total coliform bacteria is harmless, Magnuson said its presence means there's a potential for more harmful bacteria.


"If there's even a chance we could have E. coli in there we need to attack it," Magnuson said.

Brainerd Public Utilities employees will begin flushing the system Sunday. Magnuson said residents may notice a discoloration of their water as iron and manganese break loose from water mains. While it doesn't pose a health threat, Magnuson suggested people run their faucets for a few minutes before using water for cooking or laundry. Chlorinated water also shouldn't be used in fish tanks or by bait shops, BPU said.

The Brainerd Public Utilities Commission will meet at noon Monday to discuss the issue.

The 24-hour tests were conducted Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health after a drop in water pressure that resulted from a broken water line near Kiwanis Park and a loss of power due to a thunderstorm. Those issues prevented the water tower at the site of the former Brainerd State Hospital from filling up 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 commission while it's being worked on.

The order to boil water started Thursday and was extended Friday. BPU advised residents to continue boiling water while the system is chlorinated.

"The chlorination of the system is not an emergency," Brainerd Public Utilities officials said in a news release Saturday. "Consumers with health concerns related to chlorine in drinking water may choose to use bottled water or a safe alternative source during this period."

For more information go to , or refer to 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.

Matt Erickson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 2000 as a reporter, covering crime and courts and the city of Brainerd. In 2012 he was promoted to night editor and in 2014 was promoted to editor of the newspaper.
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