The City of Park Rapids issued the results of monitoring done on its drinking water for the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019. The purpose of this report is to advance consumers’ understanding of drinking water and heighten awareness of the need to protect precious water resources.

The City of Park Rapids provides drinking water to its residents from a groundwater source: a 151-foot-deep well that draws from the Quaternary Buried Artesian aquifer.

The city works with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to test drinking water for more than 100 contaminants. It is not unusual to detect contaminants in small reports, according to the report. No water supply is ever completely free of contaminants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets safe drinking water standards to protect citizens from substances that may be harmful to their health.

The table shows the contaminants found last year or the most recent time a particular contaminant was sampled for. The report states some contaminants are sampled less than once a year because their levels in water are not expected to change from year to year. Substances that were tested for but not found are not included in the tables.

Additional testing may have been done that isn’t included in the Safe Drinking Water Act. To obtain a copy of these results, call the MDH at 651-201-4700 or 1-800-818-9318 Monday through Friday.

Contact Dean Christofferson at 218-237-2716 or utildept@unitelc.com with any questions about Park Rapids’ drinking water or for information about opportunities for public participation in decisions that may affect water quality.

Vulnerable people

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population, the report continues. Immuno-compromised people, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. The developing fetus, and therefore pregnant women, may also be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water. These people or their caregivers should seek advice from health care providers. Guidelines from the EPA and Centers for Disease Control about appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Fluoride

The report states that fluoride is “nature’s cavity fighter, with small amounts present naturally in many drinking water sources. There is overwhelming weight of credible, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that fluoridation reduces tooth decay and cavities in children and adults, even when there is availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse. Since studies show that optimal fluoride level in drinking water benefit public health, municipal community water systems adjust the level of fluoride in the water to a concentration between .5 to 1.5 parts per million (ppm), with an optimal fluoridation goal of between .7 and 1.2 ppm to protect your teeth. Fluoride levels below 2 ppm are not expected to increase the risk of a cosmetic condition known as enamel fluorosis.”

Drinking water sources

Minnesota’s primary drinking water sources are groundwater and surface water. Groundwater is the water found in aquifers beneath the surface of the land. Groundwater supplies 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water. Surface water is the water in lakes, rivers and streams. It supplies 25 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water.

Contaminants can get into drinking water from the natural environment and from people’s daily activities. There are five main types of contaminants:

  • Microbial contaminants, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. Sources include sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, pets and wildlife.

  • Inorganic contaminants include salts and metals from natural sources (rock and soil), oil and gas production, mining and farming, urban stormwater runoff and wastewater discharges.

  • Pesticides and herbicides are chemicals used to reduce or kill unwanted plants and pests. Sources include agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and commercial and residential properties.

  • Radioactive contaminants, such as radium, thorium and uranium isotopes, come from natural sources (e.g., radon gas from soils and rock), mining operations and oil or gas production.

Lead is rarely in drinking water, but it can get in as it passes through lead service lines and household plumbing systems.

Conservation

Conservation is essential, even in the land of 10,000 lakes, according to the report. In parts of the metro area, groundwater is being used faster than it can be replaced. Some agricultural regions in Minnesota are vulnerable to drought, which can affect crop yields and municipal water supplies.

Some tips to help conserve water and save money in the process:

  • Fix running toilets.

  • Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing teeth.

  • Shower instead of bathe.

  • Only run full loads of laundry.

  • Only run the dishwasher when full.

  • Use water-efficient appliances.

  • Use water-friendly landscaping, such as native plants.

  • When watering the yard, water slowly, deeply and less frequently. Water early in the morning and close to the ground.