Waterline Fall 2006 - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

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Waterline Fall 2006 (PDF: 737KB/6 pages)

Stew Thornley

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Paper Versions of Waterline to End in 2007
Beginning with the Summer 2007 issue, a web-only version of the Waterline will be published. The Waterline will contain the same information about upcoming training and regulatory updates as well as other news and feature stories although it will no longer be available in a paper format.

A new issue will be produced and posted to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) web site quarterly, and e-mail will be used to notify people when it has been posted on the MDH website. Many operators and others are already receiving a notice when current issues are put on the website. Others may register to get these notices by clicking here and then clicking on the link to subscribe (next to the red envelope beneath the description of the Waterline).

PWS Profiles: Chuefue Vang, Luke Martin, and Rochelle Spielman
Chuefue Christopher Vang reviews plans in Drinking Water Protection. He was born in Minnesota and has lived here all his life. Chue shares his March 22 birthday with Braxton Bragg, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bob Costas, Reggie White, Ozzie Nelson, and Mr. Rogers.

Lucas Martin is a public health engineer, reviewing plans in Drinking Water Protection. Luke was born in Denver but lived there only a few months. He grew up in Eagan and attended high school there before moving to Apple Valley when he was in college. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in December 2003 and worked at 3M for a year-and-a-half as a laboratory technician. He now lives in Woodbury with three roommates. Luke has an older brother and a cat named Ginger.

Luke received his Eagle Scout award by doing a project involving community awareness about watershed pollution. He is getting his black belt in taekwondo, and has gone scuba diving in the Grand Cayman Islands. His other hobbies include soccer, fishing, hunting, camping, snowboarding, taekwondo, scuba diving, playing guitar, and poker.

Luke, who was born on Friday the 13th, shares his February 13 birthday with Stockard Channing, Kim Novak, Jerry Springer, Peter Gabriel, Peter Tork, Bess Truman, Mike Krzyzewski, Patty Berg, Eddie Robinson, Chuck Yeager, Randy Moss, and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Chue Vang and Luke Martin

Above (left-right), Chue Vang and Luke Martin.
Below, Rochelle Spielman.

Rochelle Spielman

Rochelle Spielman is the new compliance officer in the community water program in Drinking Water Protection. She was born in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and grew up in nearby Osceola, where her folks still have a farm. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls with degrees in chemistry and environmental technology with minors in biology and hydrogeology. Although she has worked in Minnesota for many years (Department of Natural Resources, Spectrum Laboratories, U. S. Filter Recovery Services, and the public health lab at the Department of Health), she remains a cheesehead as she and is building a house in Hammond, Wisconsin. Her brother, Ryan, is the chief of police in Dresser, Wisconsin. Rochelle and Jason have two cats (Kahlua and Magwi) and a cocker spaniel (Megan). She enjoys gardening, watching football (Packers, of course), entertaining, and dining at White Castle.

Rochelle shares her February 10 birthday with Jimmy Durante, Roberta Flack, Mark Spitz, Big Bill Tilden, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Dame Judith Anderson, and Alex Comfort (author of The Joy of Sex).

John Ehlinger Killed in Sauk Rapids; Passing of Palmer, Myhrer Also Noted
John Ehlinger, the assistant director of public works in Sauk Rapids and an active member in the Minnesota Section of American Water Works Association, was killed on Monday, June 19 after being hit by a car as he was coming out of a manhole in Sauk Rapids.

John, who was 58, was a member of the Minnesota AWWA Public Information Committee. He had been in charge of the water and sewer departments in Sauk Rapids for the past four years after 23 years with the city of Avon, where he still lived.

John is survived by his wife, Rosie, and four children. He had his first grandchild on the way at the time of his death.

John Ehlinger
John Ehlinger
John Ehlinger memorial
John Ehlinger's co-workers hung his helmet and safety vest on a cross as a memorial on the corner of Summit Avenue and Fifth Street South, where John was killed in Sauk Rapids.


John Palmer, a life member of American Water Works Association, died at the age of 83 on June 15. John had been a district sales engineer for Wallace and Tiernan for more than 35 years.

Keith Myhrer, the water superintendent for the city of Frazee, died July 10. Keith also served as the operator in nearby Vergas when the city established a public water supply in 1994. He was 57.

Training News
Northwest District School
The 2006 Northwest District Water Operators School will be held at the Holiday Inn, 1155 U. S. Hwy. 10 East in Detroit Lakes from Tuesday, November 28 to Thursday, November 30.

Registration for the school is $100 ($125 after November 15 or at the door). A block of guest rooms is being held until October 27 at a rate of $72.95 plus tax per night. Call the Holiday Inn at 218-847-2121 and mention AWWA. Participants will receive 16 contact hours for their participation.

Other upcoming schools:

  • Southwest Water Operators School, Windom Community Center, Thursday, October 12.
  • Central Water Operators School, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Wednesday, October 18.
  • Suburban Superintendents School, Champlin Ice Forum, Tuesday, October 24.
  • Southeast Water Operators School, Red Wing Water Treatment Plant, Friday, October 27.

Minnesota American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference
The Minnesota Section American Water Works Association Annual Conference will be held at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center from Wednesday, September 20 to Friday, September 22.

Hydrants the Focus of AWWA Teleconference
This fall’s American Water Works Association teleconference, Fire Hydrant Operations and Maintenance, will be held on Thursday, November 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (with registration beginning at 10:30). Downlink locations will be at Memorial Union Hall at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, and Lake Superior College in Duluth, and St. Paul Regional Water Services.

Participants will receive 4 contact hours.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time,
but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Feature Story: Blaine Deals with Water Issues with New Plants

Air stripping tower in Blaine
An 60-foot-tall air-stripping tower was lifted and then lowered into place at a new water treatment plant in Blaine on Thursday, July 27. The tower will allow the city to put two wells back into service after more than 10 years of being off-line because of volatile organic chemicals. The tower and plant are part of a series of new water plants and upgrades for the city’s water utility, part of an ongoing effort to keep up with rising water demand because of Blaine’s growth. A second plant is already operational with a third on the way.
Air stripping tower in Blaine

An outpost on the northern edge of the Twin Cities when it established a public water system more than 40 years ago, the city of Blaine has seen tremendous growth in its population, which now approaches 50,000. The number of wells to provide water to the increasing number of residents has also grown.

Treatment of the water had been handled at individual wells with the addition of fluoride, chlorine, and a polyphosphate to sequester the manganese and iron in the water. However, aesthetic problems remained for some customers. In addition, 1,2- Dichloroethene was found in two wells, causing them to be taken off line.

The area of these wells with volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) became a Superfund site, and some federal money was made available for the purpose of designing a plant to treat these and other wells. Work on the plant, located off U. S. Hwy. 10 and Central Avenue NE in the southern part of the city, began in September of 2005. A 60-foot-high air-stripping tower will remove the VOCs, and a filter will deal with iron and manganese. This will allow the two wells that were taken out of service 12 years ago to go back on-line when the project is completed in mid-September of 2006.

The continued need for capacity to keep up with the city’s growth, combined with customer complaints about discolored water because of the iron and manganese, led Blaine to plan the construction of other plants. After a series of public informational meetings, the City Council approved a rate increase from 75 cents to $1.10 per 1,000 gallons for the first 24,000 gallons and $1.35 per 1,000 gallons for the next 24,000 gallons.

Construction on another plant, just south of Minn. Hwy. 242 on Oak Park Boulevard, began in January 2005 and went on-line one year later. Designated as Plant No. 2 (the one on Hwy. 10 is Plant No. 1), it serves two already existing wells, which are inside the plant, in addition to a new well that is a block to the east of the plant. As is the case with Plant No. 1, this plant is designed for iron and manganese reduction although it does not have the air-stripping tower for VOCs.

The plants have been and are being designed by Progressive Consulting Engineers, Inc. (PCE) of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Naeem Qureshi of PCE said the plants are using a process from Filtronics, Inc. of Anaheim, California, that involves pumping the well water into a chlorine contactor. High doses of chlorine are added to oxidize the iron and manganese. Sulphur dioxide is added as the water enters another contactor to neutralize any taste and odor before going to the filters.

Plant No. 2 has four pressure filters and a capacity of 8 million gallons per day (MGD). Blaine director of public works Mike Ulrich said Filtronics did a pilot study and found that it could reduce iron and manganese down to nondetectable levels with this system. “It’s a compact filter system,” Ulrich added. “It doesn’t require a lot of space. A gravity plant would cost more to build, more to operate, and more to maintain.”

Wells in plant 2
Naeem Qureshi and Mike Ulrich
Left: Two existing wells are now housed within Plant No. 2. Naeem Qureshi of Progressive Engineers and Blaine's Mike Ulrich.

Bids for Plant No. 3, which will be on 103rd Street, near Centennial High School in the southeast part of the city, are now being let. Qureshi says that this plant, which will treat the water from two existing wells, should be completed by September 2007. In addition to the wells with each of the plants, Blaine has several outlying wells that continue to receive treatment through chemical addition at the wellhead. When the wells for Plant No. 1 are put back on-line, Blaine will have 17 wells.

However, the city is not done yet. It recently purchased 10 acres in the area of Lexington Avenue and Anoka County Road J. In the next five to seven years, it plans to construct a 12 MGD plant and a 2 million gallon water tower on the site. Will this be enough? Ulrich isn’t sure. Much depends on the growth of the city, he points out, including whether the Minnesota Vikings build a new stadium in Blaine. While the stadium will not greatly affect water demand by itself, ensuing development around the stadium could have a big impact.

For now, however, those are questions for the future. In the meantime, Ulrich and the citizens are finding relief in the quality and quantity they are receiving because of the new plants.

Blaine water treatment plant 1
Blaine water treatment plant 2
Blaine Water Treatment Plants 1 and 2

Upcoming water training.


Updated Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 09:31AM