Author: Mark Miller   

Do chickens need sweaters?

Lately there has been a lot of information put out about Shakopee’s water and the City’s plan if the citizens vote to abolish the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission. There have been statements made about the safety concerns with the water implying that it only meets minimum standards and that, therefore, we need a water treatment plant.

In the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health is the authority for the safety of public water systems drinking water. The Minnesota Department of Health enforces the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The Safe Drinking Water Act contains National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, which are legally enforceable standards and treatment techniques that apply to public water systems.

Is Shakopee’s water safe?

Yes, Shakopee’s water meets the MDH and Federal SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act) regulations as mentioned above, which all public water systems in Minnesota must meet. Recently in a Shakopee Valley News article, Minnesota Department of Health’s Stew Thornley stated that “Shakopee’s water is high quality.” Read the article here. This was again reiterated by Chris Larson of Short Elliot and Hendrickson (SEH), who is the engineering firm that is conducting the water treatment plant study for the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission.

But doesn’t Shakopee’s water only meet the minimum standards?

This is a misleading statement. The Federal SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act) and the Minnesota Department of Health’s regulations are the standards that all public water systems must meet in the State of Minnesota. If a public water system does NOT meet the SDWA standard for a contaminant, that water system must come in compliance to meet the requirements of the SDWA by reducing the contaminant level under the MCL (maximum contaminant level). This is often done by a water treatment process. Again, Shakopee’s water meets all of the SDWA and MDH standards for safety.

We’ve been told we need a water treatment plant.

This statement is based on opinion not fact. The first question that should be asked is what are you treating the water for? The term “water treatment” is not a blanket statement; not all types of water treatment plants remove the same contaminants. The more contaminants that you want to remove, the more expensive the water treatment process becomes. The most common type of municipal treatment plant in the metro area is for iron and manganese removal. Chris Larson from SEH stated that most cities need to build treatment plants to remove the iron and manganese – just to get their iron and manganese levels down to Shakopee’s natural levels.

If we did build a treatment plant, how would it be funded?

Adding a water treatment plant will more than likely increase your water rates to pay for it. You will not just be paying just for the treatment plant. Here’s what you’ll be paying for:

  • the land to build the treatment plant on;
  • the planning, designing and construction of the treatment plant;
  • the miles of water lines that run to and from the treatment plant;
  • the upgrades to existing infrastructure; and last, but not least,
  • the ongoing increased operational costs that will be incurred once the treatment plant is up and running.

What’s the City’s plan if the referendum passes?

The city stated if the vote is “yes” to abolish the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission, ”they will begin the planning, design and construction of a water treatment plant facility.” They haven’t put out any information on what they are going to treat the water for or about how much this is going to impact the Shakopee ratepayers as far as increased rates.

The fact is, someone has to pay for this project that is going to cost tens of millions of dollars, and it won’t be free. The Shakopee Public Utilities Commission approved a study to look at the feasibility of building a water treatment plant at their meeting on September 21st. This study focuses on input from the public on a water treatment plant. If a water treatment plant is not needed based on the water quality data, the decision to build a treatment plant should come largely from the input of the ratepayers because they are the ones that are ultimately going to pay for it.

As a ratepayer and voter, you should have a say! Remember the community center?

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