From the Winter 1998-99 Waterline, the quarterly newsletter of the Minnesota Department of Health Public Water Supply Unit, © Waterline, Minnesota Department of Health
Water dominates the landscape of Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota with 30 glacier-carved lakes covering nearly half of the 219,000-acre park. However, the same challenges are present here as elsewhere in providing safe drinking water to the parks employees and visitors. The park has several certified operators, including Bill Johnson, the facility manager.
Although the Minnesota Department of Health is the primacy agency, the park adheres to federal guidelines with National Park Service (NPS) 83 regulations that Johnson says, in many ways, are more stringent than those imposed by the primacy agency. Under NPS-83, Voyageurs National Park is classified as a public non-community system and is required to disinfect. The park conducts bacteriological as well as chemical monitoring on the 17 separate water systems within its boundaries, including one at the Kettle Falls Hotel, an historic lodge approximately 35 miles from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center outside of International Falls.
Johnson says they have to deal with hard water, high in iron content, from most of the wells in the park. With some of the real bad water, we shoot chlorine in to precipitate the iron, explains Johnson. After the precipitate is removed in an iron filter, chlorine is injected again to provide a residual. At the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, the water then goes into a pair of storage tanks, the second of which is pressurized, and, upon demand, passes through a sand filter as the final stage of treatment. At the right is the iron filter and chlorine feed at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.
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