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October 27, 2021

9/24/2021 12:03:00 PM
Center City holds info meeting on manganese

Center City held an informational meeting September 16 to discuss manganese levels found in its water supply. City hall was full with around 30 residents present.  All council members were present as well as maintenance director Eric Garner and representatives from the Minnesota Department of Health Response Team.
Helen Goeden from Minnesota Department of Health told the meeting that the biggest concern of manganese testing is children one and a half years old and younger.  The levels found in Center City were higher than the recommended levels for children that age.  On top of the city sending letters about levels to all the residents, Chisago County Maternal Child Health reached out to residents with children two years of age and under.

Manganese is a natural occurring mineral and is also an essential nutrient.  The Department of Health suggests safe levels as 003 mg daily for infants to 6 months.  For Children 7 months to one year that level increases to .6 mg daily. For children 1-8 years old, the levels jump to 1-1.5mg and for 9 and older 1.6 to 2.3 mg daily.  

Babies are at greatest risk because their absorbtion rate is higher and their extraction rate is slower than adults.  In parts per billion it is recommended that infants have less than 100 ppb daily and adults should be around 300 ppb daily.  

Minnesota Department of Health tested Center City’s Well #1 and readings came in at 333ppb on June 3, 2021 and 341ppb on June 21, 2021.

Lucas Martin, an engineers with the Department of Health said the state began testing in July of 2020 and Center City was frist tested in June of 2021.  Martin said the state also tested Well #2 which is used for emergencies such as fires and hydrant flushings and the readings came back quite high at 770 ppb.  That well also tested high for iron.  
Center City Mayor Jill Behnke told the audience the city is looking into options.  Martin said the city draws its water from two aquifers, the shallow being named Tunnel City Aquifer and the deeper Mt. Simon.  Martin said one idea would be to seal off the shallow aquifer and test the water from the deeper of the two.  Martin did note there is a good chance the readings will be similar.  Another option Behnke said is to install a filter system in the well which would cost anywhere between $2 to $5 million  and the city did not want to pass those costs to the residents by way of taxes.  Behnke told audience members the city was looking into grants to possibly help combat the issue.
Martin said there were testing kits available at the county but was unsure of costs if any.

Residents were told the water is safe for bathing and showering but it may cause staining of fixtures and laundry. The numbers are right on the fringe for being completely safe for adults to drink, but the Dept. of Health suggested if a person wants to be completely safe they could drink bottled water or get a reverse osmosis filtration system.  Charcoal filters such as Brita filters do not work for manganese.  A water softer would also remedy the problem but it was noted that many houses are not plumbed for software to the kitchen sink.  A question about the safety of pregnant person drinking water or even a mother breastfeeding passing manganese along to a child or an unborn was asked. Adults’ bodies work as great filtration systems and the passing of manganese would be very minimal at best, the public health spokesperson said.

When asked how much water one needs to drink in order to get to the unsafe levels, Martin said a rule of thumb is 4.5 ounces of water for every pound of human weight.  So a 100 pound person would need to ingest 405 ounces of water per day to get to unsafe levels.

Someone asked what the EPA is doing about manganese. Martin said the EPA is aware of it.

A question was asked if the schools are aware of the problem. Behnke said there are no schools on Center City’s water service.  The only large businesses on the system are the County Government Center and the jail.

Martin told the audience out of 187 water systems scheduled to be tested in the state only 94 have been tested to date. When asked if Center City’s levels ranked high of those 94 Martin said they fell in the middle.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

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