Spring Park looks at wells

MPCA will aid in investigation of contaminants

By Lorrie Ham
For The Laker

In an effort to help determine the cause of contaminants in the Spring Park city wells, the council gave its approval to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to install special equipment in the city’s wells to log data at different depths.

That action, taken at the April 18 council meeting, will allow an environmental investigation of two of the city’s three wells at this time. City wells number 1 and 2 are basically shut down during the construction of the new water plant project.

The council decided that further investigation of well 3, which is supplying the bulk of the city’s water supply right now, will be subject to further council consideration.

City Administrator Dan Tolsma explained that the city is working with the Minnesota Department of Health and the MPCA to construct an addition to the city’s water treatment plant. The addition is necessary to accommodate two air strippers that will remove the small amounts of tricholoroethylene (TCE) from two of the city’s three wells.

TCE is a volatile organic compound commonly used as a solvent in commercial and industrial operations such as metal degreasing and dry cleaning.

The $1.2 million water treatment plant project, which is currently underway, received funding from the Minnesota State Legislature. Information provided to city residents over the past two years indicates that tests show that TCE has infiltrated underground aquifers in Spring Park and low levels of TCE have been detected in two of the city’s three wells, which is slowly but steadily increasing. Well water is treated at the municipal water plant before it is supplied to residents.

As part of this project, the MPCA is requesting financial support from the Federal US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The environmental investigation required the city’s authorization to complete geophysical logging of the municipal wells prior to the end of May.

While the MPCA was ideally hoping to log info from all three wells, it recognized the impact on the city of taking down the one functioning well in order to install its equipment, said Tolsma.
Councilmember Gary Hughes wondered if there would be a cost to the city for the additional testing. Mayor Bruce Williamson explained that the proposal would not result in a cost for the city.
“This is not only good for us, but good for the entire area,” said Williamson.

Depending on whatever mitigation efforts might be in order, however, could result in a city expense, he added.

This treated water is routinely sampled to ensure compliance with federal drinking water standards and to date the municipal water supply in Spring Park has never exceeded federal drinking water standards for TCE.

Short-term measures employed by the city included adjusting the pumping schedule to provide the majority of the city’s water supply from the well that showed no detectable levels of TCE.

In another matter, Tolsma reported that all 12 of the city’s new Community Garden plots in Wilkes Park had been leased. The raised garden beds were expected to be installed by the end of April, weather permitting. Councilmember Megan Pavot reported that the beds had been arranged to allow for optimal sunlight.

Tolsma said that the gardeners had been alerted that this was a “pilot” year for the garden.

“We’ll keep an eye on it and see how it goes,” he said.

Mayor Williamson was happy the city could bring “excitement, usefulness and brightness” to the park.