Well Water Wise Week 2020 Canceled

Due to the current situation, Anoka County Environmental Services has made the difficult decision to cancel Well Water Wise week for 2020. With the inability to predict what the coming weeks will bring, the department is unable to commit to a specific date and has decided to cancel rather than continually changing the date.

The department’s well water testing program is currently still not accepting water sample submissions, as the Government Center remains closed to the public, with the exception of minimal services on the first floor. Stay tuned to this website and/or www.anokacounty.us/water. Once an opening date is determined for the program, that date will be posted on these websites.

In the meantime, residents can utilize a private laboratory if they need well water testing done immediately. Click here for a list of state certified laboratories. Most of these are open and accepting samples at this time.

MPCA Smart Salting Assessment Tool Level 2 Certification

How well do you know your organization’s salt use and any likely savings from new practices?

There is an upcoming online MPCA Smart Salting Assessment tool Level 2 Certification on May 20, 2020 from 8 am to noon.

The MPCA Smart Salting Assessment tool (SSAt) is for anyone hoping to track their salt use and take steps to reduce it:

  • Public and private organizations engaged in winter maintenance
  • Winter maintenance leadership
  • Public works managers, supervisors, and lead staff
  • Local governments
  • Small business owners

The SSAt creates a personalized, detailed assessment of your winter maintenance practices. It examines bar and non-bare surfaces: level of service expectations; past, present, and future winter maintenance practices; and salt and cost savings. The certification training will allow attendees to learn to use the tool through the new online format to create current and future practices reports for internal training, budgeting, and communicating with those who fund maintenance work. The tool will help organizations reduce salt use and apply salt efficiently.

There is no fee for this online training, but registration is required. Email environ@co.dakota.mn.us or call 952-891-7000.

This post is based upon an MPCA bulletin. Click here to read the full bulletin for more information.

North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area Meeting: Friday, May 29

The following is a message from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding the next meeting of the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) Advisory Team. The public are invited to attend.

“The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area Advisory Team will be meeting on Friday, May 29, 2020 through the web-based meeting format WebEx. A link to join the online meeting is available on the N & E Metro Groundwater Management Area webpage. The meeting is scheduled from 9 am to 11 am.

DNR staff will be providing an update on recent activities related to the GWMA plan including a presentation from the city of Woodbury on their water conservation and efficiency efforts. As always, there will be an opportunity for you to provide feedback about the plan implementation.

Groundwater management advisory team meetings are open to all people interested in groundwater issues in Minnesota. We encourage new people to come, as well as those who have attended previous meetings.”

The North and East Metro GWMA includes the Anoka County communities of Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Columbia Heights, Columbus, Fridley, Hilltop, Lexington, Lino Lakes, and Spring Lake Park, along with portions of Hennepin County. The designation as a GWMA “allows a more comprehensive and focused approach to ensuring that groundwater supplies remain adequate to meet human needs, while protecting lakes, streams, and wetlands”. Learn more at the GWMA’s website.

Fishing Opener Reminders

With the fishing opener this weekend, it is important for anglers to remember to “clean, drain, dispose every time” to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Every time a boat comes out of the water, take a few minutes for invasive species prevention. This is true whether or not their is an enforcement officer or watercraft inspector present at the launch. Remember that this is the law in Minnesota.  The required steps are to:

  • Clean aquatic plants and debris from the watercraft,
  • Drain lake or river water and keep drain plugs out during transportation, and
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash – not in the water.

It is also recommended by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that anglers: spray boat and trailer with high-pressure water; rinse boat and trailer with very hot water (120 degrees for 2 min or 140 degrees for 10 sec); or dry boat and equipment for at least 10 days.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/AIS.

Although outdoor activities are allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, per Executive Order 20-38, the DNR urges outdoor enthusiasts to:

  • Stay close to home
  • Not congregate when outdoors
  • Follow social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health
  • Remain home if they are ill or exhibiting any symptoms consistent with COVID-19

What does social distancing mean while boating?

  • Only boat with people in your immediate household – do not invite guests or anyone outside your household onto your boat
  • Do not go boating if someone in your group is feeling sick or may have been exposed to someone who is sick
  • When launching your boat, keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others

Most state-managed public accesses are open, though the availability of amenities, such as docks, are contingent upon seasonal maintenance.

More information is available on the DNR COVID-19 Response webpage.

COVID-19 and Water Quality

The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. You can continue to use and drink water from your tap as usual. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also encourages the public to help keep household plumbing and our water infrastructure operating properly by only flushing toilet paper. Disinfecting wipes and other items should be disposed of in the trash, not the toilet – even if they claim to be “flushable”.

Due to various shutdowns or reductions in business activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many buildings are experiencing periods of little to no water usage. As water sits unused in building plumbing systems, water quality problems can arise. Below are the Minnesota Department of Health’s recommendations:

New information is also available for noncommunity public water systems restarting their systems following closure, non-use, or low use. If you did not depressurize your system, see the new COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Noncommunity Public Water Systems. If you depressurized your system over the winter, see the Start-Up Procedure for Seasonal Public Water Systems. This information will help you resume operations safely and avoid water quality problems.

Reminder: If the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) requires you to collect your own water samples, please continue to do so. It is critical that drinking water systems continue to be able to assure their users about water quality. If you have any questions about sampling requirements or sample delivery, please contact your compliance officer


Summer 2020 Waterline Newsletter

The Summer 2020 issue of Waterline is now available. “The Waterline is a quarterly newsletter for water operators, city officials, and others interested in news related to public water systems in Minnesota”, published by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Protection program.

Highlights in this issue include an article about how public water systems are continuing to supply drinking water while keeping their customers and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, news about a new program at St. Paul College for water environment technologies, an attempt to save the “happy” water tower in Freeport, and updates on schools and training for water operators that are being affected by COVID-19.

Articles included in this issue:

  • Coping and Continuing with COVID
    • An Easy, No-Costs Pandemic Drill for Utilities
  • Lead Service Lines: Where Are They?
  • Freeport: Have a Nice Day
  • WUTT Is Happening
  • Anna Schliep Is New Lead in Drinking Water Coordinator
  • Permanent Rules Governing Fluoridation of Municipal Water Supplies Adopted
  • School and Training Update
  • CREAT Is Coming
  • New Addresses for Minnesota Department of Health Water Websites
  • MDH to Reduce Printed Copies of Waterline
  • Reminder to All Water Operators
  • Calendar

Click here to read the issue.

Past issues of the Waterline can be found here.

Subscribe to the Waterline here. 

MnTAP Continues to IMPACT Minnesota Businesses

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)’s mission is “Strengthening Minnesota businesses by improving efficiency while saving money through energy, water, and waste reduction.” In MnTAP’s April newsletter, they highlight the release of their 2019 IMPACT annual report, along with other topics.

MnTAP has released their 2019 IMPACT annual report, summarizing the outreach activities and environmental outcomes achieved for the year. The year’s outcomes include 29.5 million gallons of water saved, waste reduction of over 500,000 pounds, 6.1 million kWh and 55,000 therms of energy saved, and over $1.1 million saved. Each year, MnTAP publishes these Environmental Benefits Reports, which highlight their activities and success and are submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Click here to learn more and to review the 2019 IMPACT report.

Other topics included in the April newsletter include:

  • MnTAP Contributes to Minnesota Business Bottom Line
  • Energy Efficiency Training for Wastewater Treatment Facilities
  • Industrial Water Efficiency Success
  • The MPCA Grant for Emission Reduction from Solvents and Coating
    • Apply now! New Deadline: May 29, 2020

Click here to read the newsletter!


Fridley Commons Park Well Field Superfund Site Update

After many years of investigation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) support the delisting of the Fridley Commons Park Well Field Superfund Site from the National Priorities List (NPL). 

The Fridley Commons Park Well Field site is an active well field with 8 municipal wells and the City of Fridley’s water treatment plant. Water from the wells is blended and treated onsite before it is distributed to the community.

The main contaminant at the site is trichloroethylene (TCE), which has the following risk-based values:

  • Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) established in 1987 by the EPA: 5 micrograms per liter (μg/L) (equal to parts per billion)
    • MCLs are the highest level of a contaminant allowed for public water supplies
  • Health Risk Limit (HRL) established in 1994 by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH): 30 μg/L
    • HRLs are the concentrations of a groundwater contaminant that can be consumed with little to no risk to health
  • Revised HRL in 2007: 5 μg/L
  • Revised HRL om 2015: 0.4 μg/L

The City of Fridley began sampling its wells for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in 1980, and TCE was detected in 2 wells in 1983. However, TCE was not detected in the blended water distributed from the water treatment plant at that time. Subsequent testing revealed that a total of 4 wells were impacted by low levels of TCE. The City of Fridley managed the risk of exposure to contaminated water via a variety of methods including shutting off the well with the highest concentrations from 1989 to 2004, reducing water production from affected wells when demand allowed, and mixing water from impacted wells with water from non-impacted wells. It was ensured that any TCE concentrations in the finished water were below the MCL and HRL and therefore human exposure to TCE from the city’s water system has been below risk-based standards or non-existent.

Despite additional investigations from 2002-2005, the source of the contamination was not identified. In regard to other contaminants, no PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) were detected in any of the wells or water treatment plant. 1,4-dioxane has been detected in 4 wells, however concentrations have been well below the HRL and many have been near detection limits.

Site history:

  • February 1991 – site placed on Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) inventory of potential hazardous waste sites
  • June 1992 – site added to Minnesota’s Permanent List of Priorities (PLP), which is also known as the state Superfund list
  • February 1999 – site listed on National Priorities List (NPL), which is also known as the federal Superfund list
  • December 2003 – Feasibility Study completed and evaluated several remedial alternatives for the site
  • 2005 – No Action Record of Decision (ROD) was proposed in July and signed in September
    • Additional monitoring of the 4 impacted wells has continued to monitor for TCE, as required by the ROD. Concentrations have been either undetectable or below the MCL and HRL and no breakdown products of TCE were being detected
  • April 2010 – site removed from state Superfund list by MPCA

Since contamination at the site is limited to TCE and 1,4-dioxane in the groundwater, exposure to contamination is limited, the water supply is regulated by MDH under the Safe Drinking Water Act (the City of Fridley provides enhanced monitoring and collects samples at least 2x/year), emerging contaminants are either not detected or are in concentrations substantially below the MCLs and HRLs, and TCE in the site wells has been below the MCL and HRL since 2004, the MPCA and the EPA support the delisting of the site from the National Priorities List (federal Superfund list).

This information was summarized from the MPCA document here. See the full document for more information.

Wells and Flooding

Flooding seems to be happening more and more often in Minnesota, both in the spring as a result of snow melting and and runoff and after large rain events that cause flash flooding. Over the last few years, some places have been experiencing flooding that have not flooded in the past. Floodwater is not clean – it can contain contaminants such as raw sewage and petroleum or hazardous chemicals. For these reasons, it is important that well owners prepare for the possibility that their wells may flood.

The impact that flooding has on wells and water quality are often not as visible as other types of flood damage. It is important to take preventive action now that may save well users more trouble down the road.

If you think your well might become flooded, store a supply of clean water that will last for at least a few days. Shut off power to the well pump to avoid having floodwater pumped into your plumbing system or home. If you only have a little time before a flood, you can cover the well with a heavy plastic bag or sheeting and secure it with electrical tape. This won’t completely protect your well from contamination but will help reduce the amount of water and debris that could enter your well.

If a well is submerged by floodwater, or floodwater comes within 50 feet for a well, the power for the pumping system should be disconnected, and the well should not be used until flooding is over and floodwaters have receded. 

If floodwater reaches your well, assume your well is contaminated. Water from a contaminated well should not be used for drinking, cooking, or brushing your teeth until the floodwater recedes and the following steps have been completed:

  • Avoid electrical shock. Do not approach a flooded well until it has been completely disconnected from its power source.
  • If floodwater covered your well or may have entered your well directly, have a licensed well contractor inspect the well, clean out sediment or debris, and disinfect it. Using your well pump to remove sediment or debris could ruin the pump.
  • If floodwater reached your well but you are confident that floodwater did not enter the well, have a licensed well contractor disinfect your well or complete the disinfection yourself. Detailed instructions are available on the MDH website here.
  • After you or the licensed well contractor disinfects your well and pumps out the chlorine solution, contact Anoka County Environmental Services or another certified water testing laboratory to get your well tested for coliform bacteria.
    • If you well water test comes back positive for coliform bacteria, repeat the disinfection and testing process. You may need to disinfect your well several times before your well is free of bacterial contamination.
    • Do not use the water from your well until you have been informed that it is safe and free of bacterial contamination.

If floodwater came within 50 feet of your well – but did not reach the well – consider having your well water tested for coliform bacteria as a precaution. You do not need to disinfect your well before having it tested. However, if the test comes back positive for bacteria, the well needs to be disinfected.

Wells that meet the standards of the Minnesota Well Code are the safest wells. The Minnesota Well Code (Minnesota Rules, chapter 4725) has many requirements that can protect wells from flooding, including well location, casing height, and approved well caps. The code requires that wells be located and maintained at a distance of 35 feet or more from the normal high-water mark of a lake, river, or stream. For wells completed in flood areas, the code allows several options:

  • The well casing must extend at least 5 feet above the 100-year flood elevation if the 100-year flood elevation is less than 5 feet above the ground surface at the location of the well; or
  • The well casing must extend at least 10 feet above the ground surface if the 100-year flood elevation is more than 5 feet above the surface at the location of the well and the well must have a watertight cap installed on it; or
  • The well casing must extend at least 2 feet above the ground surface and be surrounded by an outer, cement grouted, protective casing that is installed in compliance with the Minnesota Well Code. Both casing must have approved, waterproof caps installed; or
  • The well casing must extend at least 2 feet about the ground surface and a sealed pitless unit spool or flowing well pitless unit is installed. The casing should be covered with an approved, waterproof, non-vented, compression seal well cap.

See the Minnesota Well Code or consult with a licensed well contractor concerning these options. To determine if a well is, or will be, located in an area prone to flooding, you can check floodplain maps here.

For more information, see the Minnesota Department of Health’s Well Management Program’s website.

Click here for a list of licensed well contractors in and around Anoka County.

Minnesotans Invited to Adopt a Drain in Honor of 50th “Earth Day Birthday”

Adopt-a-Drain invites Minnesotans to honor Earth Day’s 50th birthday by cleaning up their own street between April 17th and April 30th. Adopting a storm drain is an easy way to have a positive impact on our environment while maintaining a safe social distance.

Adopt-a-Drain is a program that asks residents to protect nearby lakes, rivers, and wetlands by “adopting” a storm drain near their home. Volunteers sweep leaves, trash, and other debris off the drain and nearby surfaces year-round.

By spending just fifteen minutes cleaning up twice each month, volunteers prevent trash and organic pollutants from flowing through storm drains and into waterways. Since its launch in 2014, Adopt-a-Drain’s 6,000 participants have prevented nearly 200,000 pounds of debris from washing down storm drains and into Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.

Jana Larson, director of the Adopt-a-Drain program, says, “Even though many community cleanup events have been canceled, we can still honor Earth Day by taking joint action to protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Adopt-a-Drain invites everyone to participate in a safe way during social distancing.”

Adopting a drain is a family-friendly activity that can enrich learning at home. Parents and teachers navigating new COVID-19 homeschool arrangements are encouraged to participate in the Earth Day Birthday cleanup and use curricular resources available online at https://waterstothesea.org/AADmodule/. Waters to the Sea is a series of free lesson plans and multimedia activities created by Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education and aligned to Next Generation Science Standards for grades 5-8. Find out more by visiting https://waterstothesea.org/mississippi/.

New volunteers and existing Adopt-a-Drain members who report what they pick up between April 17th and 30th will receive a limited edition temporary tattoo in the mail. To participate, residents in the seven-county metro area, Rochester, and Saint Cloud can adopt a drain and report the amount of debris they collect at adopt-a-drain.org.

The Science Museum of Minnesota is partnering with the Adopt-a-Drain program to promote the Earth Day Birthday celebration; all adopters are encouraged to post photos and videos of their cleaning activities on social media by tagging @adoptadrain and using the hashtags #adoptadrain and #earthdaybirthday2020 to help increase participation in the program.

About Adopt-a-Drain

The Adopt-a-Drain program is a project of Hamline University, with support from the Metro Watershed Partners, a coalition of more than 70 public, private and non-profit organizations committed to water resource education in the Twin Cities metro.

For more information, contact:

Jana Larson

Adopt-a-Drain Program Director

651-523-2812 / jlarson25@hamline.edu

or visit www.Adopt-a-Drain.org

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