Chlorination of Brainerd's water system will take longer than expected.
Brainerd Public Utilities officials last week expected to be flushing the system of chlorine on Tuesday, but Tom Phelps, utilities superintendent, said chlorination will continue through this week in an effort to get the chemical at levels needed to disinfect the system against total coliform bacteria found in the system Aug. 21.
As of Tuesday, he said it was anticipated the system would be flushed of chlorine next week, at which time the Minnesota Department of Health would retest the city's drinking water for bacteria.
Chlorine levels are coming up at the ends of the water system, Phelps said, but need to be at consistent levels in order to disinfect against the bacteria.
"We don't want to stop and then go back and chlorinate later," Phelps said.
Darwin Cole, Brainerd Public Utilities water supervisor, said it would take three to four days to flush the chlorine out of the city's water system.
"We're really going to hit it," Cole said.
Though the smell and taste of the chlorinated water may be off-putting, Phelps said Brainerd's water remains safe to drink.
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. However, more harmful bacteria such as fecal coliform or E. coli were not found during testing.
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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