Chlorination in City Water System

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Water Disinfection Open House: 4/4/2019

Hastings city staff held an open house to invite the public to discuss the water contamination event, learn about followup actions, and hear the staff recommendation to move forward with permanent, ongoing chlorination. Topic tables were staffed by experts from the Minnesota Department of Health, Stantec, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Rural Water Association, and the city. A live video of the event was streamed by Hastings Community TV. More than 30 people attended the meeting, with an additional dozen participating with the online feed. Audience members brought their questions and concerns, and the meeting went past the 8 p.m. scheduled ending.  


City Council Workshop #2: 3/4/2019

The City Council held a second workshop session to receive recommendations from City staff for addressing the question of whether or not to provide permanent ongoing disinfection of the City’s water system. Among eight different options evaluated by the City and its consultant Stantec, staff has recommended that the City implement chlorinating with the use of chlorine gas. This method would greatly reduce the risks of microbiological contamination (including bacteria, viruses, and spores) within the City’s water distribution system, has the lowest long-term costs, and requires the lowest operational efforts.

Council spent much of the 90-minute meeting asking questions of City, consultant, and MDH staff about technical, legal, and regulatory facets of the issue. The City Council consensus is to bring forward this recommendation at a regular Council meeting in April to consider a final decision. You can read the meeting minutes here

Meanwhile, we are working with the Department of Health to host an educational open house in the next several weeks. A date and time for this meeting has not yet been set, but will be announced as soon as it is determined.

Please see below links to various information that was provided to the City Council at the March 4th Workshop.

Workshop Presentation
Matrix of Disinfection Options
Survey of Nearby Communities on Water System Disinfection Method Used

Stantec Water Disinfection Study Results: 1/22/2019

Stantec has completed the water disinfection study, offering the city eight potential options to explore. The City Council was presented with the results of the study at a workshop on Tuesday, January 22. This meeting was intended to be a first look at the options, with no decisions being made at this time. The council will hold follow up workshops and a public open house to assist in the decision making process. This process is expected to take a number of months. 

Disinfection Study Presentation to Council 1.22.19

Stantec Disinfection Evaluation Report DRAFT 1.16.19

Meeting Minutes from Council Workshop 1.22.19

Options for Permanent Disinfection

Following the contamination incident that occurred in late September, City staff began work with Stantec to conduct a feasibility study for exploring options for permanent disinfection methods in the City’s water system. A report on this study is expected in mid-December and the findings of the study will be discussed with the City Council in January.

In the meantime, as a precaution, the City is continuing a very low level of ongoing chlorination of the water system. We understand that some people may continue to experience unpleasant taste and smell of the water through this part of the process, but the water remains safe to drink. These experiences are different for everyone, and the Minnesota Department of Health has advised us that it may take several months to notice an improvement in taste and smell.

The City Council will be considering final recommendations of the feasibility study in the early part of 2019 and determine the next course of action at that time. Until then, please read below for more detail regarding the ongoing low-level chlorination and tips for how you can improve taste and smell concerns.

Full System Chlorination

Beginning on Monday, October 8th, the city will begin low-level chlorination throughout our entire water distribution system. A low concentration of no more than 1ppm (parts-per-million), which is 10 times less than the concentration used in swimming pools, will be injected throughout our system while we take time to research permanent disinfection options for the City of Hastings public water system. The purpose for this action is to minimize the risk of biological contamination in our entire system. 

MDH Recommendations

As a reminder, the MN Dept of Health conducted a Level 2 Assessment of our system following an incident where bacterial contamination was found to be in part of our distribution system. Results of that assessment were unable to pinpoint an exact source of the bacteria. Based on their findings, the MDH strongly recommended that Hastings work to find a permanent disinfection solution for the City's water supply system.   

Taste and Smell Concerns

It is normal, when a system first starts to chlorinate, for people to say they can taste and/or smell the chlorine. This may be due in part to the fact that the chlorine is breaking down the accumulated biofilm in the distribution system. Biofilms are natural and grow on almost all wet surfaces such as the interior of a water pipe. Since we have never chlorinated before, it is normal for our system to contain biofilm. As the chlorine works to break down the biofilm, it can produce a stronger smell. As the system stabilizes, the smell and taste will decrease. This process can take several months. 

Tips to Reduce Taste/Smell of Chlorine

  • Put a pitcher of water in the refrigerator and let it sit for a few hours before using. The chlorine will dissipate (ie. evaporate).
  • Many point-of-use filters, such as a Britta faucet filter or pitcher, will work to removed taste and odor.
  • Granular activated carbon filters can be installed at your tap or as a whole-house filter.

Sensitive to Chlorine?

We have heard some reports of people concerned that the chlorine will dry their skin. At the very low concentration of chlorine found in drinking water, the water should not cause dry or itchy skin. The levels the City is adding are 10 times less than those found in swimming pools, in order to be safe for human consumption. Please keep in mind that this is the time of the year when the air becomes cooler and dryer. Many people take hot showers. These are both factors in causing dry skin. If you still feel that the chlorine is causing a problem in your home, please report it to our Public Works Hotline at 651-480-6187.

Cities Who Chlorinate or Disinfect Permanently

Per MN Dept of Health Records:

Of 975 total Community Public Water Suppliers (municipal and non-municipal) in Minnesota, almost all large and medium systems disinfect permanently, and approximately half of small systems disinfect permanently. 

Below is a summary of all Community Public Water Suppliers in Minnesota who do NOT currently disinfect their water systems:

-3 cities at population of 10,001 or more (Hastings is currently one of the three)
-3 cities at population of 3,001-10,000 
-12 cities at population of 1,001-3,000
-24 cities at population of 501-1,000
-211 cities at population of 500 or fewer

How does Hastings ensure the the safety of my drinking water?

We work with the Minnesota Department of Health to ensure our drinking water meets all standards. Drinking water standards protect Minnesotans from contaminants that may be harmful to their health. We test our drinking water for over 100 contaminants. You can read our annual Drinking Water Report here.

How to report concerns?

  • For health related issues you feel are related to the water incident that took place on 9/22-9/24, please report issues to the MN Dept of Health Waterborne and Food-borne Illness Hotline: 1-877-366-3455
  • For concerns about chlorination, that are not relieved by reading the information above, please call  651-480-6187 during normal business hours.