A 13 page list of Barnum residents experiencing water quality issues was delivered to the City Council by Jessica Unklehauser.

At the regular October City Council meeting resident Janet Larson approached the council with concerns about the quality of water at her home. During the meeting she told the council that several other residents of Barnum had expressed concern over similar water quality issues. The council encouraged Public Works Superintendent Brett Collier to contact the  Minnesota Rural Water  Association with suggestions on how to address the issues community members were reporting. A water quality survey was also created and information about participation in it sent out with monthly water bills by the Barnum City Clerk’s Office. 

Kurt Haakinson, a field technician with  the Minnesota Rural Water Association, was present at the meeting to address some of the concerns being raised while explaining possible next steps in treatment and prevention. He explained that water in Barnum is chemically treated groundwater. “The more you do the more it costs,” said Haakinson. 

Many of the issues reported by those residents present at the meeting were “secondary standards” according to Haakinson. Secondary standards have to do with the appearance of the water such as water clarity or reports of water having a sulfur smell.  Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requires testing for primary safety standards in drinking water, Collier is required to submit testing to the state and meet these standards. “The water is safe to drink,” said Haakinson. 

At the recommendation of Minnesota Rural Water a new more precise chemical pump for the water treatment plant has been approved and ordered. Estimated arrival for this new pump is mid-December according to Collier.

The data collected on the 13 page list provided by Unklehauser will help to narrow down if the quality issues are isolated to certain areas of the city. Haakinson and Collier plan to use all the resources at their disposal to determine what is causing these water quality issues. The council determined that this would be a standing agenda item until the issues have been addressed.   

Other News

Travis and Anne Marie Thien, owners of North Country Wreath were present at the meeting to ask the council to reconsider their January 2021 decision to not allow outside dumping at the city compost site. The city notified North Country Wreath of the change in policy via letter, but neither copy of the notification was received by the Thiens. 

North Country Wreath operates out of the Carlton County Fairgrounds for approximately two months each year and has been doing this for 14 years. In 2011 there resident complaints about smoke prompted North Country Wreath to discontinue burning of discarded pine boughs. A wood chipping service was brought in during the 2012 season. 

Because of the green quality and size of the discarded pine branches wood chipping using a standard chipper is not a possibility. North Country Wreath has explored the possibility of hiring a drum chipping service, but no one is interested in such a small short term job. 

Mayor Jason Goodwin, along with Collier made the decision to allow North Country Wreath to utilize the city compost site for one more season. This decision was based on the notification letters not being received and North Country having no advanced notice of their lack of access. 

After this season the council determined that they would reassess the ability for North Country Wreath to use the site. 

Demolition of the current city buildings in moving along quicker than expected. These projects are waiting on permits for utility shut offs to begin. 

The permit to excavate under a portion of County Road 10 in order to address a sewer line connection issue is in question after a delay in the project due to a COVID-19 protocols. Illness in the excavation firm hired by the city to complete the work has caused a six week delay in their work schedule. Tar and asphalt plants are no longer in operation for the season. 

Carlton County has concerns about the cost of leaving a section of County Road 10 as open dirt over the winter season that has put in question the ability for the city to complete this project. Collier and the home owners hope to work with the county to allow for a cold tar patch or some form of compromise that would allow the project to continue.

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