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Lanesboro looks at radium issues

Fri, Feb 8th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Government

The Department of Health has informed the City of Lanesboro that the levels of radium in their drinking water are too high, and they have until 2015 to be in compliance with state regulations.

Jim Kochie of Davy Engineering attended the February city council meeting to go over the preliminary report he had drawn up.

Kochie explained that Well #1 is high in radium, Well #2 is a multi-aquifer well, which is also high in radium, and the pumphouse is in poor condition. Well #3 (also high in radium) is in better condition, and with reduced radium levels, could still be used.

According to Kochie, it is highly unlikely that they would be able to find a water source in Lanesboro that was not high in radium, meaning the water will have to go through a radium treatment process.

Council member Tom Smith asked Kochie what the health effects are of high radium levels. Kochie said the long-term effects are an elevated risk of bone cancer.

“It’s a naturally-occuring element,” said Kochie. “Up until 20-30 years ago, nobody looked at it or thought about it.”

He added that other towns have had to deal with this issue, and Rushford had to put a treatment plant in a few years ago.

Davy Engineering had put together several options for financing such a project. They broke it down into three priorities. Priority A would be to put up a new Well #4 near Well #3, and a pumphouse/treatment and Ridgeview PRV station to connect the systems. The total cost would be $2,282,610. In Priority B, they would construct a loop on Parkway to improve the distribution system. The cost for that would be $330,170.

Priority C involves making changes to the water main on Main Street from City Hall to Beacon Street. Increasing the pipe size to eight inches from the current six inches would increase fire protection capability for the downtown area. This would add another $266,310 to the project, bringing the total to about $2.9 million.

Kochie spoke about financial assistance and the options that are out there, including small cities grants and USDA loans. He suggested the city discuss what they would like to do and what they can afford and then pick a loan or grant program that best fits.

He gave different scenarios for financing. The project would raise the rates of water customers in Lanesboro.

Smith asked what would happen if the city was not in compliance by 2015. Kochie answered that with all of the things that need to be in order before they can even bid the project, they might not get it fixed in time, and they will need to discuss that with the Department of Health.

Fire Department and Ambulance Updates

Council member Tom Smith spoke to the council about the recent ambulance service meeting. He said their problem with staffing is not going to go away, and they need to come up with a real plan. He made a motion to have the ambulance service meet with the city and the fire department to continue to develop a comprehensive plan.

“It will be a big workload, and it will take a few months,” said Smith. “But we are starting in the right direction.”

The motion was approved. Mayor Steve Rahn then made a motion to pay $1.00 an hour for two EMTs to be on call. “It’s not much but it’s a little something,” he said. “It’s a starting point.”

Vickerman explained the ambulance service originally didn’t feel the pay was necessary, but would like to have some incentives to get new members and keep people.

Dam Update

O’Connor updated the council on the progress with financing the repairs needed on the dam. He said Representative Greg Davids and State Senator Jeremy Miller will be trying to get the poject on the bonding bill for $1.1 million. The city has $300,00 in legacy grant, and The DNR will match the city’s $450,000.

“I think this would be the best outcome from a funding standpoint,” said O’Connor.

Other Business

A public hearing regarding the lodging tax ordinance will be held at the beginning of the next council meeting, on March 4 at 5:30pm. The city will be looking at the ordinance to make possible updates to be sure they are enforcing it properly.

The council approved Vickerman sending out an application for Lanesboro to get the title of Playful City once again this year, and also approved her trying for a grant for playground equipment.

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