Chlorination of Brainerd's water will restart after tests Wednesday confirmed total coliform bacteria is still present in a segment of the water system, it was learned Thursday.
Brainerd Public Utilities Superintendent Tom Phelps said chlorination will start Friday after total coliform bacteria was again detected near the South Eighth Street reconstruction project.
Brainerd started chlorinating soon after total coliform was first detected at the construction site on Aug. 21.
Phelps said he was shocked to learn of the positive tests.
"We really chlorinated and flushed heavy," Phelps said. "We have to find out what's going on."
Dave Schultz of the Minnesota Department of Health, which conducted the tests of the water system, said about 15 tests were started throughout the city Tuesday and total coliform was found at three of the sites near South Eighth Street. The other sites were negative for any bacteria.
The tests near South Eighth Street were positive for total coliform and negative for harmful fecal coliform or E. coli bacteria, Schultz said. 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.
Schultz said the city and department of health would continue testing Thursday to confirm Tuesday's tests and to get a better idea of where the total coliform bacteria is entering the system.
Phelps said chlorine will be added to Brainerd's water at a lower level than before. Schultz estimated the chlorination would take about two weeks. He noted several years ago in Aitkin, total coliform bacteria was found in the water system and took a couple of months to clear up.
Schultz said the department of health considers total coliform bacteria to be a non-acute violation and there have been no reports of illnesses as a result of the bacteria.
He reiterated that, 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 should 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.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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