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Park Rapids releases 2009 drinking water test results

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News Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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Park Rapids releases 2009 drinking water test results
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Park Rapids is issuing the results of monitoring done on its drinking water for the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2009.

The purpose of this report is to advance consumers' understanding of drinking water and heighten awareness of the need to protect precious water resources.


Park Rapids provides drinking water to its residents from a groundwater source: four wells ranging from 51 to 70 feet deep, that draw water from the Quaternary Water Table aquifer, according to Dean Christofferson of the city utility department.

The water provided to customers may meet drinking water standards, but the Minnesota Department of Health also has made a determination as to how vulnerable the source of water may be to future contamination incidents.

To obtain the entire source water assessment regarding your drinking water, call 800-818-9318 (and press 5) during normal business hours. The report also may be viewed online at

Anyone with questions about Park Rapids' drinking water or who would like information about opportunities for public participation in decisions that may affect water quality may call city hall at 732-3163.

Monitoring results

The results contained in the following table indicate an exceedance of a federal standard.

Some other contaminants were detected in trace amounts that were below legal limits. (Some contaminants are sampled less frequently than once a year; as a result, not all contaminants were sampled for 2009. If any of these contaminants were detected the last time they were sampled for, they are included in the table along with the date that the detection occurred.) The table following shows the contaminants that were detected in trace amounts last year.

Possible contaminants

During the year, the city had a violation for Nitrate (as Nitrogen). The nitrate result that was over the MCL was collected from a well that is designated as an emergency back-up source. The system has an agreement with the MDH to use this source only in an emergency situation such as fire protection.

The city's system returned to compliance as of Aug. 25, 2009.

Nitrate in drinking water at levels above 10 parts per million is a health risk for infants of less than 6 months of age. High nitrate levels in drinking water can cause blue baby syndrome. Nitrate levels may rise quickly for short periods of time because of rainfall or agricultural activity.

Radon is a radioactive gas, which is naturally occurring in some groundwater. It poses a lung cancer risk when gas is released from water into the air (as occurs during showering, bathing or washing dishes or clothes) and a stomach cancer risk when it is ingested.

Because radon in indoor air poses a much greater health risk than radon in drinking water, an Alternative Maximum Contaminant Level (AMCL) of 4,000 Pico Curies per liter (pCi/l) may apply in states that have adopted an indoor air program, which compels citizens, homeowners, schools and communities to reduce the radon threat from indoor air.

For states without such a program, the MCL of 300 pCi/l may apply. Minnesota plans to adopt an indoor air program once the federal radon rule is finalized.

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing.

The city is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When water has been sitting for several hours, a person can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing the tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.

Water can be tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods and steps to take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at

Some contaminants do not have maximum contaminant levels (MCL) established for them. These "unregulated contaminants" are assessed using state standards known as health risk limits to determine if they pose a threat to human health.

If unacceptable levels of an unregulated contaminant are found, the response is the same as if an MCL has been exceeded; the water system must inform its customers and take other corrective actions.


Sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.

Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

n Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife.

n Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining or farming.

n Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff and residential uses.

n Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff and septic systems.

n Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prescribes regulations, which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water, which must provide the same protection for public health.

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk.

More information about contaminants and potential health effects can by obtained by calling the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population.

Immuno-compromised persons such as those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561