The Village of Grantsburg has been taking steps to lower the levels of manganese in the water system. However, there are still high levels according to the EPA and WDNR.

Infants and adults over the age of 50 should not drink Grantsburg Waterworks water, according to a new public notice that will be sent out in water bills along with a letter explaining what steps the village has taken to lower the amount of manganese in the drinking water.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) told public works director Chris Bartlett to print a public notice stating in bold letters across the top – DO NOT DRINK THE WATER.

Bartlett was not a fan of the statement and explained to the village board he thought it was a bit extreme.

“The water hasn’t gotten worse and the village is making steps to resolve the issue,” Bartlett said. He continued, when the EPA and DNR told him about the issue he had Well 3, the problem well, shut down.

In the new public notice it states infants and people over the age of 50 shouldn’t drink the water, but it also states, “Everyone should avoid long term consumption. High levels (of manganese) may affect the nervous system and kidneys and impact reproduction.”

The letter the village has written outlines the project goals.

“The Village uses three wells to fill our two water towers. Well #3 pumps 280 gallons per minute of water and is our largest well,” the letter states. “Each well can be adjusted to pump different amounts of water into the water system. Once the filtration system is in place, Well #3 would be set so that it would run longer than the other wells therefore adding more water to the system. By doing this, the amount of Manganese would be reduced throughout the whole water system.”

The Village has three wells that have been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency – Well 1 manganese levels were 612 µg/L or micrograms per liter, Well 2 was at 783 µg/L and Well 3 was at 1,140 µg/L.

The EPA says the health advisory level is 300 µg/L. and that manganese levels greater than 1,000 µg/L or greater could pose immediate health risks. Manganese levels in well water varies throughout the state and are typically below 50 µg/L.

Bartlett said they stopped using Well 3 earlier in December. Wells 1 and 2 are being used to distribute water to the village and that levels throughout the distribution system are less than 1,000 µg/L.

In Oct. 2019, the village released a drinking water advisory saying bottled water should be used for infants.

Last years statement said, “The Village of Grantsburg has levels of manganese in the drinking water which are higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) acute health advisory level. The Village has been in contact with the WI DNR regarding this issue and the WI DNR is not requiring any immediate response actions. However, the Village is proactively working with engineers to determine next steps, including potential installation of a filtration system.”

That filtration system could cost anywhere between $750,000 and $1,500,000.

The board will start the bidding process for the project next month and installed by the end of June.