City of Benson continues to work to reduce copper levels

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Joint city-school board meeting set for Nov. 15

Over the past two years, the Minnesota Department of Health has been closely monitoring the City of Benson’s drinking water for levels of lead and copper.

While lead levels have never been a problem, copper content in the water continues to exceed levels at which the state requires corrective action. In late October, the department of health again notified the city that its copper levels were too high at 13 sites it tested in the community.

Just where those sites are is not made public under a state law that was passed back in 2004. However, law also requires that the homeowners at sites that test high for copper levels to be notified by mail or hand-delivered letter within 30 days of the test results coming back. The city must also provide information on the possible side effects of drinking water with higher levels of copper in it.

While the city has been trying to find the right level of orthophosphate to add to the drinking water that would help coat copper pipes so they didn’t slough off copper into the water, the state has now stepped into oversee the effort.

The tests require that the taps from which the water is drawn for the tests to have been idle for 12 hours. That 12-hour period allows the copper levels to build.

The results of the tests it gets are reported to the city council.

At Monday night’s Benson City Council Meeting, City Manager Rob Wolfington reported that the state Department of Health is upping the level of polyphosphate and will test sites in the community again in six months.

Copper works its way into the water by dissolving from copper pipes in the household plumbing. The longer the water stands idle in the pipes, the more copper it is likely to have absorbed. Newer homes with copper pipes may be more likely to have a problem with high copper levels. Over time, a coating forms on the inside of the pipes and can insulate the water from the copper in the pipes, MDH says. In newer homes, this coating has not yet had a chance to develop, however, the orthophosphate the city is adding should help that coating develop.

The easiest way to reduce the chances of too much copper in your water is simply by turning on the faucet and letting it run for a little while.

“Anytime the water has not been used for more than six hours-overnight, for example, or during the day when people have been gone to work or school - it should be cleared from the pipes before being used for drinking or cooking,” MDH recommends.

“This can be achieved by letting the cold water faucet run until you can feel the water getting colder-usually 30 to 60 seconds. This must be done before taking drinking water from any faucet in the house,” it adds.....

Joint city - school board meeting

Benson’s council set a special meeting with the District 777 Board of Education for Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 5:30 p.m., in the council chambers at city hall.

The council and school board plan to talk over ways in which they could possibly work more closely together on a range of needs. No specific subjects were mentioned. The meeting is open to the public.


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