Traces of lead found in New Brighton water


Solomon Gustavo • A resident talked about water softening services at the end of New Brighton City Manager Dean Lotter’s water update presentation during the New Brighton Community Open House at the New Brighton Community Center May 5. During Lotter’s presentation, he said the city found very low concentrations of lead in some of the city’s tap water.

City says likely a result of old residential pipes.

 

During the New Brighton Community Open House at the New Brighton Community Center May 5, City Manager Dean Lotter gave a presentation on city water. He said recent water tests found very low concentrations of lead.

New Brighton’s decades-long water woes stem from groundwater pollution that originated at the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in neighboring Arden Hills. As part of a lawsuit settlement from 2014, the U.S. Army will pay a sum of $59.4 million in advanced funding for water treatment needs. 

New Brighton is currently building water treatment plants. In the interim, city water is provided by the Minneapolis water system. 

Residents are still weary of water that comes from their taps, though. Lotter, at the open house, said the city saw social media posts with a resident claiming the pH value of their water to be between pH 4 and 5. For example, tomato juice has a pH of 4.

Lotter said tests of the Minneapolis water coming through a New Brighton tap had a pH value between 8.5 and 8.6 — more on the base end of the scale away from acidic. 

He said of the 60 locations the city tested water for lead and copper, 13 had “slight exceedances” in lead. 

A possible explanation, said Lotter, is that private plumbing that connects to city pipes, especially in older homes, likely has lead in the solder. All public lead pipes have been gone since the 1980s he said, but old, private pipes might have lingering lead coating. 

Lotter said a way to avoid any possible trace of lead is to run the tap for 30 seconds. Once the water is really cold, any stale water sitting in older pipes will be flushed out. For more confidence, he suggested a Brita filter. 

 

Other water updates

Lotter addressed other water issues, including residents complaining about bubbly water coming from the tap and the city water plant plan not having water softening services. 

As for bubbly, cloudy water, Lotter said bubbles in water are caused by extra air and have no related health concerns. “Its got air in it” said Lotter, “I like air.”

The reason water from Minneapolis has extra air in it, he said, is because the reservoirs are shallow and close to the cold ground surface. The combination of cold conditions and pressure in the reservoir causes the extra bubbles.

Concerning water softening, Lotter said providing the service would result in $10 million to $20 million in additional construction costs on top of operating costs that would likely surpass $1 million annually. He said such costs would increase utility bills by as much as 65 percent. 

New Brighton’s Water Plant 1 project is on schedule, said Lotter, adding the transition from Minneapolis water to Water Plant 1 will happen this fall. 

 

— Solomon Gustavo

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