Chlorination in City Water System

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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.