Threats to drinking water supplies intensifying, health dept. says

A section of lead pipe from St.Paul water system.
A old section of lead pipe pulled from the St. Paul water system last year following concerns of lead seeping into water.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News file

Minnesota's public drinking water supplies are in good shape, according the state's Department of Health, but a new report also warns agencies should remain prepared for that to change.

"As threats to our water intensify, we can't afford to get complacent," said health department Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. "Aging infrastructure, increasing levels of contaminants and new knowledge about what is in our water threaten our water quality and quantity."

The new report looks at states where the water supply has been contaminated, including lead contamination that made water unsafe in Flint, Mich.

Minnesota also needs to be prepared to address other pollution in the water supply, including nitrate contamination, which the report states is an ongoing concern for a several areas of the state.

Statewide, water samples from those systems were subjected to more than 64,000 separate tests for more than 100 potential contaminants. None of the systems exceeded current federal standards for pesticides or industrial pollutants.

Among other results, the report shows that coliform bacteria was found in 31 water systems, which were treated after the bacteria was detected.

Water systems in six communities exceeded the action level for lead in 2016. The report says those communities are working with the health department to get their systems back into compliance.

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