Minnesota Drinking Water Report Exposes Problems in Some City Systems

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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Photo Credit: KSTP/File.

Article courtesy of Eric Chaloux | June 1, 2015 | KSTP | Shared as educational material

The Minnesota Department of Health discovered 19 municipal water systems around the state with bacteriological, arsenic and radioactive elements in their drinking water during 2014.

The Department of Health placed no restrictions on water consumption in any of the communities on the radioactive list but the state report said residents were advised to consult with their doctor if they have any special concerns.

“We’ve had on-going issues with our water supply simply because of the aquifer we are located, it’s not an uncommon issue in Minnesota,” Thomas Terry, Elko New Market City Administrator, said.

Elko New Market was listed as a municipal water supply where radioactive elements were detected in the Minnesota Drinking Water 2015 report published by the Minnesota Department of Health. The report examined 961 community water systems.

“We want to provide the highest quality water for our residents,” Terry said.

Elko New Market will open a new $8 million water treatment plant at the end of the year to deal with their drinking water.

“The overall water quality will improve, the treatment facility we are building today is for the treatment of radium in the water supply,” said Terry.

The Minnesota Department of Health report said radiation occurs naturally in the ground and sometimes radioactive elements might work their way into drinking water.

“Not as bad as they say, but high priced,” Elko New Market resident Bob Lampman said.

During Monday’s lunch hour he was checking out customers at his sister’s restaurant on Church Street in Elko New Market.

Lampman says at the counter, customer don’t talk about the town’s water quality instead about the estimated tripling of their rates when the new plant goes on-line later this year.

“I hear them talking about the price of it,” Lampman said.

The city of Otsego says leaders were well aware of the radium levels in the water supply and the city has consistently worked with the Department of Health over the years to address it. On March 23, the city council approved an agreement with the Department of Health regarding the issue. A copy of that agreement can be read here.

Officials say all water supplied by the city meets all Department of Health requirements. See the annual drinking water quality report for Otsego here.

Funding for Drinking Water Protection

The Minnesota Department of Health is waiting to hear if they will receive state funding for drinking water protection; at least 5 percent of the entire Clean Water Fund is to be dedicated to drinking water efforts.

The Legacy amendment funding bill did not pass during the regular session but it’s expected to be debated during the special session.


Summary of Water Monitoring Results for 2014

  • No systems violated water standards for pesticides and industrial contaminants.
  • Eleven community systems, including eight municipal systems, tested positive for bacteriological contamination in 2014.
  • No community systems exceeded the nitrate standard in 2014. Fourteen non-community systems exceeded the standard for nitrate in 2014.
  • Four community water systems, including two municipal systems and three non-transient non-community water systems exceeded the standard for arsenic by the end of 2014.
  • Nine municipal water systems exceeded the standard for radium 226 and 228 by the end of 2014; one municipal system exceeded the standard for gross alpha emitters.
  • No community or non-community water systems exceeded the standard for inorganic chemicals.
  • Two community water systems exceeded the standard for disinfection byproducts in 2014.
  • In 2014, two community systems exceeded the lead action level and 23 community systems exceeded the copper action level; six non-community systems exceeded the lead action level and five non-community systems exceeded the copper action level.

Information: Minnesota Department of Health


2014 Bacteriological:

  • Alvarado
  • Battle Lake
  • Oak Park Heights
  • Nielsville
  • Kent
  • Buhl
  • Brownsdale
  • Winton

The state report says the systems were disinfected, flushed, and retested to ensure that any contamination problems had been eliminated.

2014 Arsenic:

  • Winger
  • Freeborn

The state put no restrictions on water consumption.

2014 Radioactive Elements:

  • Otsego
  • Houston
  • Maple Plain
  • Elko-New Market
  • Stockton
  • Stacy
  • Lanesboro
  • Hinckley
  • Lewiston

As mentioned above, the Department of Health put no restrictions on water consumption in these community systems.

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