Monticello Moves Forward with Water Treatment Facility Plans
Monticello’s City Engineer and Public Works Director, Matt Leonard has been busy representing the City at the Minnesota Capitol, testifying for funding support to construct a water treatment facility.
On Tuesday, March 7 Leonard testified before the Senate Capital Improvement Committee in support of the funding outlined in bill SF 501 (Anderson), introduced by Sen. Bill Anderson (R-Buffalo) in January 2023.
The next day Leonard testified before the MN House of Representative’s Committee on Capital Investment. Leonard was supported by Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-Maple Lake), who introduced HF 746 (O’Neill) in January 2023.
Both bills seek $22 million for construction of a water treatment plant in Monticello and related water utility infrastructure to accompany the plant. The City is also seeking a $10 million grant from the federal congressionally directed spending. This request has been sent to Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), and Congressman Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota).
Leonard was given 3 minutes to testify about the community and why we are seeking a water treatment plant. One of the primary reasons for the construction of a plant is the high levels of manganese in our drinking water.
About Manganese in Drinking Water
Manganese occurs naturally in drinking water and is found in rocks and soil. People need some to stay healthy, but too much can be harmful.
Scientists are still learning about the impacts of high levels of manganese in drinking water. Regulating agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to collect data to determine if future regulations are needed.
More attention was brought to manganese with the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4). As part of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act, every 5 years the EPA is required to issue a list of up to 30 unregulated contaminates that must be monitored by public water systems.
Manganese was included as one of the contaminates monitored between 2018 and 2020. The monitoring is intended to provide the basis for future actions to protect public health. The City of Monticello participated because we are a public water supply system serving a population greater than 10,000.
In 2018 the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) developed guidance levels for manganese in drinking water. However, public water systems are not required to meet these guidelines, and they are not required to treat drinking water for manganese since it is not a primary drinking water standard.
Based on ongoing testing, the City’s municipal water supply still meets all Safe Drinking Water Act standards, but the levels of manganese are higher than MDH’s guidance.
Since learning of the manganese levels in 2018, the City of Monticello has been actively working with the Minnesota Department of Health and other experts to pursue effective short and long-term options to reduce manganese levels.
What is the City Doing to Reduce Manganese in Drinking Water?
First, the City took the initial step to reduce manganese in drinking water by limiting the use of wells with higher levels.
In addition, we’ve provided public outreach to help educate the public about options to reduce manganese levels in individual households (please see additional info below). Our website, annual city newsletters, utility bill inserts, and annual water report all contain helpful information about manganese for our residents.
We encourage residents to use any of the options available, and we also take seriously our responsibility to find a citywide mitigation strategy. Based on a feasibility study, the best option is to construct a water treatment plant. The City intends to build the facility on a city-owned Chelsea Road parcel where there’s an existing well house and a 760,000 gallon below ground water reservoir. The estimated cost to construct a water treatment facility is $28 million.
Now, the City is seeking funding assistance for the facility, so the city isn’t relying only on local rate payers. Leonard noted in his testimony that equitable water treatment is at the forefront of this project. The City is prepared to invest funds in construction as well as ongoing operations and maintenance, but state funding assistance is vital to bringing this project to life as quickly as possible.
What Can Residents do to Reduce Manganese?
There are several options for filtering manganese out of your drinking water. Certain types of home water treatment devices remove or reduce manganese:
- A carbon filter
- Distilled water or a distillation system
- A reverse osmosis water system
- A water filtration system
- A water softener
Looking for more information?