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Houston City Council talks radium levels in city water supply

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Jun 13th, 2014
Posted in All Government

On June 9 Houston held their monthly city council meeting. The majority of the meeting was spent with the Minnesota Department of Health educating the city council on the town’s issue of radium being found in the drinking water. The representatives informed council members on what radium is, what its effects can be, and the options the city has to get into compliance with their radium levels.

The representatives started off assuring the council that radium is naturally occurring and it would take 70 years of drinking two liters of water a day in order to see the negative effects it can have on the human body. Though the odds are incredibly slim at one out of 10,000 chance of seeing any adverse reactions, the representatives did inform that the potential risks of radium are bone cancer and tumors.

Houston is far from the only town in the area with radium level issues. Rushford had to build a treatment plant and Rushford Village drilled a new well. Lewiston, La Crescent, Winona, and Lanesboro also have had radium level issues. The MNDH representatives said to not be surprised if it takes five years to get into compliance. The council was encouraged to weigh their options for up to a year and expect fundraising to take another year and a half. The town will likely be able to secure loans and grants to fund the project so that cost incurred by residents should only be about 1.4 percent of the average household income. The council’s initial preference is to build a treatment plant, thinking that it would suit Houston’s needs the best. Council member Matt Schutte said, “A treatment plant solves a lot of problems over a long period of time.” The council has not made any formal decision.

At the meeting Margie Frutiger represented the Lawn Chair Concert Series and asked that the city act as the event sponsor so that they would be able to secure insurance for the event through the city. The council approved the request.

The council also granted approval to the Lions Club project of making a path or road to give bands access and handicap accessibility to the band shell pending final design and cost.

The council also approved a donation from the Houston Money Creek Snowriders for the amount of $500.

The last item on the evenings agenda was brought by council member Schutte. Council member Schutte had concerns about the speed of traffic that runs East to West on Spruce Street. With the area being frequented by children, he felt stop signs or “slow, children at play” signs would increase safety. After some discussion the council agreed that both stop signs and “slow, children at play” signs should be put up. The yellow zone on the curb will also be extended to provide greater visibility for drivers.

The next city council meeting will be held on July 14 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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