Brainerd Public Utilities will continue chlorinating the city's drinking water through Labor Day weekend.
Tom Phelps, utilities superintendent, on Thursday said crews continue pulling the chlorine through the system in an effort to eliminate total coliform bacteria that was detected near a south Brainerd construction site Aug. 21.
He said the hope is to have the chemical at a high enough concentration in all 90 or so miles of the city's water mains by Tuesday, when the water will be retested.
"Once we figure we've got the system saturated and have neutralized everything, we'll flush the complete system and then the Department of Health will come in and take tests throughout city for coliform bacteria," Phelps said. "What we're initially trying to do is get the chlorination levels up there so we don't have to go back through chlorination again."
With the chlorination, residents have noticed a different taste, smell and sometimes color to their water. Phelps said Brainerd Public Utilities has received few calls or complaints about the water and the water remains safe to drink and use.
Darwin Cole, Brainerd Public Utilities water supervisor, said crews have been turning on fire hydrants to pull the chlorinated water from the water plant through the city's water system.
As of Thursday, chlorine levels were still not high enough at the ends of the system, Cole said.
"It's such a large infrastructure, it just takes time. There's a lot of water," Cole said. "We want an effective kill so we want to get the chlorine residuals up there."
Total coliform bacteria are generally not harmful themselves, are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present.
The Minnesota Department of Health considers total coliform bacteria to be a non-acute violation that doesn't pose a health risk to residents.
However, as a precaution, people with compromised immune systems - young children, the elderly or people with health issues - or people who are concerned about the water can seek other alternatives, such as bottled water or free filtered and tested water in the blue tanks at the Water Treatment Plant on East River Road near Kiwanis Park in Brainerd.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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