Stacy considering water treatment facility due to radium concerns

Concerns about radium levels in test wells have Stacy officials considering a water treatment facility.

City attorney Peter Grundhoefer reviewed the site description of a potential water treatment facility at the Nov. 13 Stacy City Council meeting.  He advised the council the city has clear ownership to one piece of the lot. He said title commitments were obtained “on the bulk of the land from the HUD purchase,” but on the smaller lot purchased through a probate matter, there was no title insurance. Stacy owns the property “from the tree line over,” according to Grundhoefer.

But he admitted he is unclear on where a facility would stand. Mayor Mark Utecht said the city hasn’t entered the design phase yet. Grundhoefer is seeking a title commitment on the entire parcel. The mayor asked if this would be required, as he would rather hold off on this expense until forced to spend the money on the issue.

Grundhoefer reminded the council Stacy might have to undertake clean up of the site. Since the city expects to qualify for grant funding through USDA Rural Development, the council thought cleanup could fit qualifications for use of funds.

The flow of paper in Stacy’s quest to resolve the issue of radium in the city’s water rivals the flow of water processed to find a solution. Mayor Mark Utecht browsed the results of test well water readings and said, “I know where they spent their money, on paper.” A pay request in the amount of $24,275.00 was approved Nov. 13 for the testing.

City Engineer Chuck Schwartz gave an outline of his report, which covers different site options, water storage, wells, and possibly a new water tower.

“The good news is there’s enough capacity,” he said.

He then noted there is radium in the test well, but it is below drinking water standards. The mayor pointed out just because the radium is low right now in the test well doesn’t mean that is where it will stay. Schwartz recommended the city continue to take samples and would clearly see the radium levels fluctuate. Schwartz continued, adding the water hardness high and manganese levels are high. He said this contributes to the bad taste and smell. “This is aesthetic in nature though,” Schwartz said.

City Clerk Sharon Payne said she constantly gets the comment that citizens would not mind paying so much for the water bill if it was water they could drink. She gets complaints that plants die and dogs won’t drink the Stacy city water.

The mayor cut to the chase, asking if blending is an option based on the water quality results from the test well. Schwartz verified it is an option. Depending on input from USDA Rural Development on the city’s resolution, the city engineer would like to see a water treatment plant built. If the city is close to the maximum contaminant levels allowed, the city would be prudent to build the water treatment facility now in order to adequately insure the city would not have to undertake this additional expense in the future.

USDA Rural Development will look at both blending and treatment options. Schwartz will have a final report to the council next month and warned resolution or decision could be “a lengthy discussion.” Schwartz has also completed a MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant pre-application. DEED will review this to decide if the project “is worthy of submitting a formal application,” Schwartz said.

The mayor confirmed his wish for a work session discussion and requested Schwartz keep in mind he is presenting to the council and citizens and he should report “in layman’s terms.” The council planned a special meeting for Nov. 27. If Schwartz’s report is not complete on that date, the council agreed to a Dec. 5 meeting at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re trusting you as our expert to tell us the best option and what the method should be to address this,” Utecht said. “Nothing can be ignored at this point, but once a decision is made that is the direction we are going to go.”

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