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Brainerd Public Utilities Has found elevated levels of copper in drinking water in some homes/buildings.

Please read this information below closely to see what you can do to reduce copper in your drinking water.

Date Distributed: 11/13/2023

Copper in Your Drinking Water

Elevated Levels of Copper in Your Drinking Water
Our water system regularly samples for copper in our drinking water to make sure it meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards. More than 10 percent of the locations sampled for copper were above the Safe Drinking Water Act action level for copper. The action level for copper is 1,300 micrograms per liter (the same as 1,300 parts per billion, or ppb).

What Are We Doing about the Issue?
We are looking at ways to reduce copper in our drinking water. We are also adopting a copper education program for all of our water customers.

What Are the Health Effects of Copper?
Your body needs some copper to stay healthy, but too much is harmful. Eating or drinking too much copper can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, liver damage, and kidney disease. The level of copper that will cause symptoms varies from person to person. Nausea and diarrhea may occur when copper levels are approximately 3,000 ppb. Most people’s bodies are able to maintain the right level of copper. People with Wilson’s disease and some infants (babies under one year old) are sensitive to copper. Their bodies are not able to get rid of extra copper easily.

Sources of Copper
Copper is a reddish metal that occurs naturally in rock, soil, water, sediment, and air. It is used to make many products, including parts for plumbing systems. Copper can get into your drinking water as the water passes through your plumbing system. Over time, plumbing parts usually build up a natural coating that keeps the water from absorbing copper from the plumbing.

Water may have more copper if:

  • Your plumbing is less than three years old. It likely has not had time to build up a
    protective coating.
  • It has been sitting in your pipes. The water has had more time to absorb copper from
    the plumbing.
  • You use warm or hot water. Warmer water absorbs more copper from plumbing
    systems.
  • You have a water softener. There may be less protective coating with softened water.

Reducing Exposure to Copper in Water
1. Let the water run before using it for drinking or cooking. If you have a lead service line, let the water run for 3-5 minutes. If you
do not have a lead service line, let the water run for 30-60 seconds.

  • Ways to let the water run before using it for drinking or cooking:
  • Do tasks like showering or running the dishwasher first
  • Collect tap water for cleaning or watering plants
  • Make sure you let the water run from individual faucets for a short time before
    using them for drinking or cooking.
  • Consider keeping a container of drinking water in the refrigerator to reduce how
    often you need to let the water run.

2. Use cold water for drinking, making food, and making baby formula. Hot water releases more copper from pipes than cold water.
3. Test your water. In most cases, letting the water run and using cold water for drinking and cooking should keep copper levels low in your drinking water. If you are still concerned about copper, arrange with a laboratory to test your tap water.


4. If tests show you have levels of copper over 1,300 ppb in your tap water after you let the water run 30-60 seconds, you may want to consider treating your water.

 


Making Safe Drinking Water

Your drinking water comes from a groundwater source: six wells ranging from 123 to 187 feet deep, that draw water from the Quaternary Water Table aquifer.

Brainerd works hard to provide you with safe and reliable drinking water that meets federal and state water quality requirements. The purpose of this report is to provide you with information on your drinking water and how to protect our precious water resources.

Contact Todd Wicklund, at 218-825-3220 or twicklund@bpu.org if you have questions about Brainerd’s drinking water. You can also ask for information about how you can take part in decisions that may affect water quality.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets safe drinking water standards. These standards limit the amounts of specific contaminants allowed in drinking water. This ensures that tap water is safe to drink for most people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the amount of certain contaminants in bottled water. Bottled water must provide the same public health protection as public tap water.

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Some People Are More Vulnerable to Contaminants in Drinking Water

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. The developing fetus and therefore pregnant women may also be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water. These people or their caregivers should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Learn More about Your Drinking Water

Drinking Water Sources

Groundwater supplies 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water, and is found in aquifers beneath the surface of the land. Surface water supplies 25 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water, and is the water in lakes, rivers, and streams above the surface of the land. Contaminants can get in drinking water sources from the natural environment and from people’s daily activities. There are five main types of contaminants in drinking water sources.

The Minnesota Department of Health provides information about your drinking water source(s) in a source water assessment, including:

Find your source water assessment at Source Water Assessments (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/swp/swa) or call 651-201-4700 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Lead in Drinking Water

You may be in contact with lead through paint, water, dust, soil, food, hobbies, or your job. Coming in contact with lead can cause serious health problems for everyone. There is no safe level of lead. Babies, children under six years, and pregnant women are at the highest risk.

Lead is rarely in a drinking water source, but it can get in your drinking water as it passes through lead service lines and your household plumbing system. Brainerd is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but it cannot control the plumbing materials used in private buildings.

Read below to learn how you can protect yourself from lead in drinking water.

  1. for 30-60 seconds before using it for drinking or cooking if the water has not been turned on in over six hours. If you have a lead service line, you may need to let the water run longer. A service line is the underground pipe that brings water from the main water pipe under the street to your home.
    1. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/06/24/npr-find-lead-pipes-in-your-home
  2. for drinking, making food, and making baby formula. Hot water releases more lead from pipes than cold water.
  3. In most cases, letting the water run and using cold water for drinking and cooking should keep lead levels low in your drinking water. If you are still concerned about lead, arrange with a laboratory to test your tap water. Testing your water is important if young children or pregnant women drink your tap water.
    1. Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (https://eldo.web.health.state.mn.us/public/accreditedlabs/labsearch.seam)
      The Minnesota Department of Health can help you understand your test results.
  4. if a test shows your water has high levels of lead after you let the water run.
    1. Point-of-Use Water Treatment Units for Lead Reduction (https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/factsheet/poulead.html)

Learn more:

Water systems have ongoing infrastructure, operations and maintenance costs in supplying safe drinking water, and many are implementing additional efforts to help insure health equity and manageable water bills with:

  • Turn the faucet off while brushing teeth.
  • Shower instead of bathing to reduce water use.
  • Fix running toilets by replacing flapper valves.
  • Run full loads of laundry and use a minimal water use setting.
  • Our water system partners with others to help consumers with limited resources make payments to their water bills.
  • Contact us to learn more.