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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Board seeks to address high arsenic levels

Jodi Summit
Posted 1/12/22

GREENWOOD TWP- The town board here approved the purchase of a water treatment system to remove arsenic from the well water that is used to supply drinking water to township residents via an outdoor …

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Board seeks to address high arsenic levels

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GREENWOOD TWP- The town board here approved the purchase of a water treatment system to remove arsenic from the well water that is used to supply drinking water to township residents via an outdoor spigot.
“The water outside is important to many people,” said Supervisor Barb Lofquist, who had spearheaded the effort to get the town hall water tested. “This will provide safe drinking water for the public.”
Many township residents who have lake water systems have used the town hall as a source for drinking water. While the water has been tested for common contaminants, as required by the state, the township had never tested the water for other minerals.
The board, at their Jan. 11 meeting, decided it was not necessary to install a system for the entire town hall, since the water quality is considered safe for bathing, washing, and short-term consumption. The board noted the town hall kitchen is rarely used, and that if needed, water for cooking can be hauled from the outdoor spigot. Installing a system to service the kitchen and bathrooms would have at least tripled the cost, Lofquist said.
The cost for the Brassmaster system is $6,880, which includes the installation and required plumbing work by Iron Range Plumbing and Heating. The township will need to have an additional electrical outlet installed, which is estimated to cost an additional $500. This system will also remove iron and manganese.
The township will remove the drinking water fountain inside the town hall, and they will post notices that the water in the bathroom and kitchen is not “potable.” The outdoor faucet that supplies water to the pavilion area will also be posted.
The outdoor water spigot will be limited to residential, not commercial, use.
The Brassmaster system is low maintenance and will supply up to 10 gallons per minute. Unlike a reverse osmosis system, it will not put a large amount of fresh water into the town hall’s septic system. A quote to install a reverse osmosis system came in at over $27,000. Quarterly water testing on the new system will be done at no charge, provided by Brassmaster. The Brassmaster units are manufactured in Minnesota.
The arsenic level in water from the Greenwood Town Hall outdoor water spigot, which tested at 102 ppb, was 10 times over the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 ppb set by EPA and the Minnesota Department of Health Drinking Water Protection Program.
Arsenic is found naturally in soils and rocks across the area, and can dissolve into the groundwater. Arsenic levels can vary between wells even in a small area, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. You cannot taste, see, or smell arsenic in the water. Private well owners are advised to test at least once for arsenic, according to the MDH.
Ambulance
The board passed a motion to have the township approach other area townships and cities with the idea of hiring a consultant to explore the idea of creating a regional ALS ambulance service. Township Chair Mike Ralston will send out letters to a list of consultants, provided by Virginia Fire Chief Al Lewis, seeking requests for proposals for such a study.
“This has to be regional or it isn’t going to work,” said Lofquist.
The township will approach the IRRR to see if funding would be available for such a study. It is also possible, said Ralston, that ARPA (federal pandemic relief) funding can be used for the cost.
The board also voted to send in their 2021 subsidy payments to the Tower Area Ambulance Service, totaling $13,500.
Other business
In other business, the board:
• Approved a $100 donation to the Cook Library.
• Accepted a $195 donation from the Greenwood Quilters.
• Approved a three-year service contract with Ziegler for the emergency generator at a cost of $1,162 per year.
• Appointed Kathy Lovgren, Carol Maus, Colleen Lepper, Joan Mueller, Beverly Peterson, and Leanne Lundstrom as election judges for the upcoming township election on March 8.
• Heard that incumbent Carmen DeLuca will be challenged by Robert “Rick” Stoehr for the Supervisor 4 seat. Incumbent clerk Deb Spicer will be running unopposed.
• Discussed ongoing issues with the ADP payroll system. Treasurer Belinda Fazio said she has been unable to contact them so that she is named the contact person on the account. When the township first made the change to ADP, Deputy Treasurer Tammy Mortaloni was the contact, because she had experience with the system, but the intent was to then have Fazio take over the payroll entry duties. Fazio said she is able to learn the payroll system, but first needs to get access through ADP. The board has discussed going back to using their previous software system, but has not made a final decision.
• Supervisor Drobac noted that the claims list had a double payment to ADP. The board voted to remove the second payment and have the treasurer void that check.
• Drobac asked the board to look at reducing the treasurer’s monthly salary to account for the hours spent by the deputy treasurer doing duties that have been traditionally done by the treasurer. No action was taken. The motion to approve the monthly payroll passed 3-2, with Drobac and Lofquist voting against.
• Will work on the 2023 budget at the Feb. 8 meeting. Ralston said they are looking at an approximate increase of $10,000 in budget spending from 2022.
• Approved the purchase of a lightweight portable water supply tank for the fire department at a cost of $1,765. These tanks are used to supply water once the fire trucks are emptied.
“If we don’t have water at a fire scene, we are worthless,” said Fire Department Safety Officer Rick Worringer.
• Fire Chief Dave Fazio reported the department has 23 members, and 21 are fire fighters. Of those, 19 qualified for pension payments this year. Twelve department members are First Responders, and 10 of those qualify for the township-funded pension payment this year.
• Made no decision on whether or not to classify fire department members as volunteers, and will seek more information on whether this is legal. Previously, the township had been told they needed to treat the members as employees for tax
• Lofquist asked if the board could hold a closed meeting to discuss issues relating to the clerk’s salary and hours. Drobac said she didn’t think the board was allowed to close a meeting for that purpose. Ralston said he would check with MAT on the issue. The state open meeting law only allows public bodies to close meetings for issues relating to pending lawsuits, preliminary consideration of charges against an employee, to evaluate an employee’s performance, or for strategy sessions for labor negotiations. The clerk is not a township employee.

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