Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Tower, Breitung water supplies meet safety standards, but just barely

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TOWER-SOUDAN- The Tower and Breitung water supply has been having some difficulty staying within safe guidelines but while levels are still higher than desired, they are below maximum contaminant level, or MCL guidelines.

Drinking water contaminants such as haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes exceeded safe guidelines last year.

Since then Matt Tuchel, water plant operator, has been working to reduce levels of these chlorination by-products by adjusting settings in the water tower, turning pumps on more often, and removing beaver dams.

Results have come back from the most recent sampling on Feb. 22. (Samples are taken quarterly.) Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) for haloacetic acids or HAA5s are 60.4 mg/L. At 25 1st Ave. in Soudan results they were 48.0 mg/L, at 48 Jasper Street in Soudan they were 47.0 mg/L, at 105 Cedar Street in Tower they were 55.0 mg/L, and at 602 Main Street in Tower they were 45.0 mg/L.

The MCL for trilomethanes or THMs is 80.4 mg/L. At 25 1st Ave. in Soudan results were 43.5 mg/L, at 48 Jasper Street in Soudan they were 39.2 mg/L, at 105 Cedar Street in Tower they were 46.7 mg/L, and at 602 Main Street in Tower they were 35.9 mg/L.

The drinking water supplies did not show any other contaminants, including things like lead, copper, nitrates, and arsenic, at levels even close to the MCL.

HAA5s and THMs are formed when naturally-occurring organic matter combines with disinfectants added to kill microorganisms. They are byproducts of drinking water disinfection. Some people who drink water containing THMs in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous systems, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. THMs are classified as “Group B carcinogens” shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Commercial home water filters will remove THMs, as does boiling, or simply leaving tap water standing in a pitcher in the refrigerator overnight.

Since the most recent test results have come back in compliance, the Tower-Breitung Wastewater Board is not looking to immediately upgrade the system.

But with the previous history of non-compliance, as well as resident complaints, they have looked into options to upgrade the system. Engineers came back with three options to upgrade, however, it is not known yet which option is most ideal so more testing will be required. Upgrade costs are estimated to be as high as one million dollars.

Tuchel said that for now, they will keep up with regular maintenance, keep equipment up-to-date, and work to give the best quality water they can with cost restraints.

Copies of the Tower and Breitung 2016 Drinking Water Reports are available to view at Tower City Hall and Breitung Town Hall.

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