Waterline Fall 2008 - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

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Stew Thornley

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Minneapolis Shows Off New Drinking Fountains

Mayor Rybak at Guthrie Theater Heart of the Beast Water Fountain

Minneapolis has commissioned 10 artistic drinking fountains to celebrate the role water has played in the city’s history. The designs were unveiled at a ceremony at the Guthrie Theater on July 22 that featured Mayor R. T. Rybak (left). A few days later, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre unveiled its new fountain (right). See below for more details.

Design for Dinkytown Water Fountain

Minneapolis has commissioned 10 artistic water fountains to be placed around the city. “We are the city of waters that is also a center for arts and culture,” said mayor R. T. Rybak. “We not only celebrate public art and support local artists, we are a place where you can walk down the street and get a free drink of quality public water, instead of more and more water out of plastic bottles that clog our landfills. These beautiful sculptures are public art with a practical purpose and a symbolic message.”

A few days after the designs for these fountains were unveiled, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre held a day-long water festival on Lake Street, outside the theater in Minneapolis, before dedicating its water fountain, which has been the centerpiece of a series of performances on drinking water.

Water Festival on Lake Street

Best Security Practices for Water Systems: A Quick Review

Events such as the upcoming Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities underscore the importance of being security conscious. Here is a list of items that merit attention:

Planning and Preparedness

  • Review your water system’s emergency response plan, incident notification process, and emergency calling trees.
  • Prepare an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate resources and communications during an incident.
  • Connect with local law enforcement and other first responders, and practice your incident command
    structure and notification system.
  • Establish additional protective measures as a threat level increases.
  • Include security awareness and response procedure as part of employee training.
  • Provide redundancy, interconnects, and emergency back-up capability to meet normal and emergency needs.

Access Control and Barriers

  • Install alarms and intrusion detection systems at site perimeters and sensitive areas.
  • Provide adequate clear-area and perimeter lighting around facilities.
  • Keep vehicle parking well away from critical areas.
  • Limit access to contractors, vendors, and temporary employees who are expected or whose presence is confirmed by prior arrangement.
  • Identify buffer zones that can be used to further restrict access to facilities when necessary. Coordinate with local law enforcement.

Monitoring, Surveillance and Inspection

  • Train staff to watch for and identify for unusual or suspicious activity.
  • Practice both routine and random security inspections at facilities, equipment, and remote critical sites.
  • Maintain a thorough inventory and accounting of all sensitive materials.
  • Perform frequent and comprehensive monitoring of water quality in the water distribution system.

Communication and Notification

  • Maintain and regularly test security and emergency communication systems.
  • Encourage employees and the public to report any suspicious activity that might constitute a threat.
  • Monitor industry and government information about threats, incidents, and periods of heightened Homeland Security Advisory System alerts.


  • Implement cybersecurity policies for employees.
  • Maintain a well-trained staff, and regularly consult with industry specialists to deal with cybersecurity issues.
  • Validate the credentials and work of contractors and vendors given access to technology systems.
  • Immediately cancel access for terminated staff.
  • Control physical access to critical technologies.

Randy Ellingboe Takes Over Drinking Water Program at MDH

Randy Ellingboe

Randy Ellingboe is the new manager of the Minnesota Department of Health Drinking Water
Protection Section, succeeding Doug Mandy, who retired last April. Randy is returning to MDH, where he supervised the Engineering Unit before the program was moved to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Previously, he worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and before that in the Agronomy Department at the University of Minnesota. Randy and his wife, Lynn, have three daughters, two horses, one cat, and a new 85-pound yellow Lab, whose primary activities, according to Randy, are “laying around, chasing animals out of the yard, and retrieving anything someone is willing to throw (a ball, frisbee, Volkswagon, etc.).”

Red Wing Plants Serve Water across Varying Elevations

Red Wing Twin BluffsThe city of Red Wing has served its growing population with water for more than 100 years.  Through much of the 20th century, treatment consisted of chemical addition at booster stations scattered around the community.  By the late 1990s, however, radionuclides in the groundwater forced the city to consider alternatives for more advanced treatment. 

Approximately 50 miles from the Twin Cities, Red Wing occupies the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, its varying elevation providing challenges with water distribution.

In the past, the utility added fluoride, chlorine, and ammonia at each of its eight booster stations.  The use of chloramines rather than free chlorine helped in maintaining a residual to distant points on the distribution system.  Water from the five wells was also aerated before going to ground-storage tanks to deal with hydrogen sulfide as well as iron and manganese.

Red Wing Charlson Crest PlantThe issue of radionuclides then came up in the 1990s.  Levels of radium 226 and radium 228 ranging from 3.1 to 5.7 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) with gross alpha emitters as high as 21.9 pCi/L—both in excess of the maximum contaminant levels of 5.4 pCi/L and 15.4 pCi/L, respectively—prompted Red Wing to consider treatment alternatives.

The city hired Bolton & Menk, Inc. to study the situation and make recommendations.  Lime softening was considered but rejected because of the cost and staffing needs.  In addition, the utility needed to develop new wells to replace some of the existing ones, which were as much as 100 years old.

Red Wing decided instead to construct two new treatment plants to reduce the radionuclides as well as iron and manganese.  One is the Twin Bluffs plant, on Pioneer Road to the southwest of downtown Red Wing, approximately 1,000 yards from Booster Station 7.  The other is the Charlson Crest plant, off U. S. Hwy. 19 on the western edge of town to help serve the quickly growing Burnside area of Red Wing.

With the new plants came three new wells—one at the Twin Bluffs plant and two at the Charlson Crest plant—and the abandonment of three wells.  The two remaining wells are by Booster Station 7.  The wells are 630 to 655 feet deep, each producing 1,200 to 1,500 gallons per minute of water from the Mount Simon and Mount Simon-Fond Du Lac aquifers.

Corey Aadalen, a native of Red Wing, is the chief plant operator.  He attended the water technologies program at Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota, in the early 1980s and began working with the utility as an assistant water operator in 1984.  Aadalen said the Twin Bluffs and Charlson Crest plants operate by the same process although they have different capacities: 5.7 million gallons per day (MGD) at Twin Bluffs and 4.3 MGD at Charlson Crest.

In the plants, aeration is performed.  Small waterfalls provide a splashing action that increases the water’s contact with air, oxidizing the iron and manganese.  The water then flows by gravity to a 136,000-gallon detention tank and is held for approximately 30 minutes.  At this point, potassium permanganate is added to further oxidize whatever doesn’t get oxidized by aeration and detention.  Aadalen says they also add manganese sulfate at this point.  “We have pretty low entry levels of manganese, so we add that partially because if we added too much potassium permanganate it might get into pink-water troubles.  Also, it optimizes, it forms hydrous manganous oxides (HMOs), so it’s part of the treatment process that helps for radium removal.”

Filtration is next.  Each plant has four filter cells.  The cells are 20 x 20 feet at Twin Bluffs and 18 x 18 at Charlson Crest and contain 15 inches of anthracite on top of 15 inches of manganese greensand.  Aadalen says the process is “basic iron-manganese technology, which is how we remove the radium.  Greensand can physically filter out the manganese, which the radium is adhered to.  The radium adheres to the manganese, and we can physically remove the manganese, and the radium just sticks to it.” 

Backwashing occurs after approximately five million gallons of water have been filtered at Twin Bluffs and four million gallons at Charlson Crest although Aadalen says they will always backwash at least once a week to recharge the greensand.  The clear water is reclaimed and pumped through the filters again while the sludge goes to the wastewater plant.  The backwash reclamation process can recover up to 90 percent of the water.

Corey Aadelen

Above: Corey Aadelen in the plant’s laboratory.

Below: Water is held approximately 30 minutes in a 136,000 gallon detention tank.

Red Wing Detention Tank

The distribution system has seven elevated reservoirs and one ground-storage reservoir for a capacity of six million gallons and five separate pressure zones: low, intermediate, two western-intermediate zones, and high.

When the clearwell is full, water flows by gravity to a one-million gallon ground-storage reservoir at Booster Station 7, where it is pumped into the low and intermediate systems.  Water from the Charlson Crest plant is pumped into the low system.  Chlorine and ammonia are added to form a residual disinfectant at both the Charlson Crest plant and Booster Station 7.

Pump stations around the city take water from the low and intermediate systems and transfer it to the two western intermediate levels and the high level. 

Programmable logic controllers (PLC) are used with the wells, treatment plants, and pumps, allowing operators to control the plant on site or remotely from a laptop computer.  The PLC activates an automatic dialing system if  there is a problem, and operators can respond either at the plant or from their laptop computer.

The new plants have been successful in reducing the levels of radionuclides.  Treated water results show levels of under 1 pCi/L for radium 226, under 3 pCi/L for radium 228, and under 3 pCi/L for gross alpha emitters.  In addition, Aadalen says they are receiving no complaints about iron. 

Besides Aadalen, the treatment plants, reservoirs, and pump stations are staffed two by certified operators, Gerry Butenhoff and Ed Krawiecki.

Minnesota IDSE Monitoring Sheds Light on DBPs and Chloramines

Large disinfected public water supplies and their consecutive systems comprised the initial wave of a mandatory disinfection byproduct (DBP) investigation that began in July of 2007. The Initial Distribution System Evaluation (IDSE), a regulated precursor to the U.S. Stage 2 Disinfectants / Disinfection Byproducts Rule (Stage 2 DBP Rule), affected nine Minnesota drinking water supplies in the first of four staggered monitoring groups. In addition to improving DBP monitoring location choices as the Stage 2 DBP Rule takes effect, the recent IDSE results have shown general DBP stability within chloraminated distribution systems, satisfactory water age predictions, and observation of possible microbiological effects on haloacetic acids (HAA5) within wholesale and consecutive public water supplies.

The IDSE Schedule 1 systems, consisting of two large chloraminated wholesale systems and their seven consecutive systems, collected samples from four site types using the following criteria:

  • Near Entry Point (NEP): closest to a treatment plant
  • Average Residence Time (ART): mean chlorine residual, well-looped watermain
  • High HAA5: low non-zero chlorine, no bacteria detects, downstream
  • High Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM): low chlorine, downstream, dead end watermain

Results, normalized by the wholesale Near Entry Point results (shown below) for the locational running annual average (LRAA), agreed with previous indications of low DBP formation within chloraminated systems. Average TTHM levels were roughly equivalent at all distribution sites, although minimally higher at the TTHM sites. Average HAA5 levels were highest at HAA5 sites while lowest at TTHM sites, where bacterial consumption would most likely occur. Although HAA5 formation reactions appeared to lag TTHM formation reactions through treatment and into distribution, the initial IDSE results confirmed generally low and stable DBP levels and the adequacy of chlorine monitoring, distribution mapping, and utility staff knowledge over hydraulic modeling when choosing chloraminated public water supply DBP monitoring sites.

IDSE Graph

Minnesota Joint Analysis Center Seeks Partners in Information Sharing and Exchange Program

By Bob Nesbitt
Analyst, Minnesota Joint Analysis Center
The Minnesota Joint Analysis Center (MNJAC) is a section of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The MNJAC’s purpose is to allow participating agencies to share information about suspected criminal activity. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has supported the establishment of centers (called fusion centers) in every state to coordinate the information-sharing functions between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies as well as other public safety agencies and the private sector. Fusion centers provide an environment where the stakeholders collaboratively work together gathering information, analyzing data, and sharing information to improve the ability to fight crime and terrorism locally, regionally, and nationally. The mission of the Minnesota Joint Analysis Center is to collect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information regarding organized criminal, terrorist, and all-hazards activity in Minnesota while complying with state and federal law to ensure the rights and privacy of all.

Intelligence Communications Enterprise For Information Sharing and Exchange (ICEFISHX) is the mechanism to collect incident reports of suspicious activities to be evaluated and analyzed in an effort to identify potential trends or patterns of terrorist or criminal operations within the state of Minnesota. Through ICEFISHX the intelligence products will be disseminated with a summary of the information in the form of a weekly report.  ICEFISHX will also function as a vehicle for two-way communication between federal, state, and local law enforcement within our state.  

Government agency and critical infrastructure partners are necessary since they act as intelligence collection and dissemination entities as well as the response force to acts of terrorism.

Intelligence is a vital key to the “War on Terrorism and Crime.” Becoming a partner in the ICEFISHX program has several benefits; it ensures that potential threat-related, but not necessarily exigent, information is shared with our partners; it facilitates the productive liaison between federal, state, and local law enforcement community; and it encourages the sharing of potentially crucial intelligence. Partners also benefit by receiving valuable training provided by ICEFISHX members or other ICEFISHX partner agencies. This is a free program. To become a member, go to http://www.icefishx.org and click on “Become a First Responders/Government Partner.” Any questions, call me at 612-373-2848.

New Burnsville Plant Will Use Excess Quarry Water: Partnership Will Provide Water, Help Preserve Fens

New Burnsville Water Treatment Plant Kraemer Quarry
A new water treatment plant being built in Burnsville will get its water from a quarry a mile away.

The balance between too much and not enough water is often difficult to achieve. However, a quarry in Burnsville and the city’s water utility are teaming up to create a situation in which all parties benefit.

Kraemer Mining & Materials, Inc. operates a quarry to mine for dolomite limestone deposits in northwest Burnsville, just south of the Minnesota River. The mining operations require dewatering of the quarry, and Kraemer is now pumping approximately 10 million gallons a day (3.6 billion gallons per year) into the Minnesota River. A water appropriation permit obtained from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources a decade ago allows for the discharge of four billion gallons a year, a figure the quarry is approaching. Kraemer would like to expand its operations, but it would require the pumping of greater volumes of water than are allowed under their permit.

Meanwhile, the city of Burnsville and surrounding communities are in need of more water. Instead of getting this water in the usual way, by drilling several new wells, Burnsville has entered into an agreement with the quarry to use some of the water it has been pumping into the river. In addition to helping solve the quarry’s problem with the excess water, the city is reducing the impacts on aquifers and nearby calcareous fens.

Additional wells would have an effect on the Black Dog and Savage fens. To protect these fens, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has encouraged local municipalities to minimize their use of the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer, which feeds the fens. In addition to restrictions on the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer, a moratorium exists on the use of water from the Mount Simon-Hinckley aquifer.

Instead, the city will be able to get its water from the quarry. Dave Edmunds, Kraemer’s chief operating officer, said the company has considered collaborating with the city for some time and renewed the initiative to work with Burnsville on such a project about four years ago. “It’s a pretty green project with good economic and environmental impacts,” said Edmunds.

The state of Minnesota also recognized how the project will benefit the environment and has included a total of $5.5 million for a new surface-water treatment plant and pipeline in bonding bills. An additional $3 million will come from Kraemer with the remainder of the total project cost of $13 million coming from Burnsville and the neighboring community of Savage, which will purchase some of the treated water from Burnsville.

“The surface water treatment plant project is a great collaboration between a private company, Kraemer Mining and Materials, the state of Minnesota, and two cities, Burnsville and Savage,” said Burnsville public works director Bud Osmundson. “Burnsville could have drilled another well, which would have been cheaper, but the quarry and future lake water provides us with another water source. Plus the addition of the surface water treatment plant provides the city with flexibility in major maintenance at our existing treatment plant. It just has a number of positive benefits to the ecology, the quarry operation, the state’s natural resources, and the cities’ future water supply.”

Kraemer Quarry
Water flows from the south sump (above) at the quarry to the north sump (below).
Kraemer Quarry

Currently, water from the south sump at the quarry flows by gravity and through weirs into the north sump. From there, it is pumped into the Minnesota River. When the project is complete, two angled wells drilled into the quarry will draw out the water, which will be pumped through a 20-inch main to the Burnsville treatment facility, located a mile to the east. The water supply will come from the dewatering operation at the south sump. Although it will be near groundwater quality, it will be considered surface water for treatment and regulatory purposes.

New Burnsville Water Treatment PlantThe city currently has an 18 million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant with gravity filters to reduce iron and manganese and is building the new surface-water treatment plant adjacent to the existing water treatment plant. The new plant, which will be subject to regulations under the Surface Water Treatment Rule, will use a direct filtration process that includes aeration, rapid mixing with a coagulant, and flocculation. It will have four gravity filters and be capable of treating four to six million gallons per day of water from the quarry. After the water passes through the filters, it will go into a chlorine contact basin and then will flow by gravity into an existing seven-million gallon clearwell, where it will join treated water from the existing plant. The new plant will also include backwash reclaim tanks.

Kraemer QuarryEdmunds said they anticipate mining in this quarry for 15 or more years. When the mining ceases and dewatering operations are shut down, the local groundwater flow direction in the Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer is expected to return to the natural condition of south to north, discharging to the Minnesota River. The natural groundwater flow will also fill the quarry and form a lake.

The lake water is expected to have low turbidity and could be used by the city for its water supply. “The treatment scheme of the new plant is designed to be compatible with the dewatering that will be used initially and the possible future lake supply,” according to the project engineer, Greg Johnson of Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH), Inc.

“This is an investment that made sense to us,” said Edmunds. “It lets us be miners and be orderly as we mine the rest of this deposit.”

Words to Live By

Authority is a poor substitute for leadership.

Honesty without compassion and understanding is not honesty but subtle hostility.
—Dr. Rose N. Franzblau

One of the great sources of energy is pride in what we are doing.


Operator training sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota AWWA will be held in several locations this spring.

Upcoming water training

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Updated Friday, February 12, 2016 at 06:36AM