Brandon water concerns continue

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BRANDON, S.D. (KSFY) - Citizens in the City of Brandon started digging following a water ban over the summer and found that when there's a water supply issue, there are often quality issues too.

It started with a complete water ban this summer, then was reduced to an even odd watering ban.

Dan Guimont and his family moved from Mankato, Minn. a few years ago and said he had never heard of a water ban before this summer.

"My understanding is that if you have a water quantity issue, you might have a water quality issue," Guimont said.

The city purchased a well from Sioux Falls several years ago, now known was Well No. 7 to the City of Brandon. The well was known to Sioux Falls to be contaminated with Radium, something Brandon City Administrator Bryan Read told KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh, they were aware of, earlier this summer.

Back on Oct. 16 at a City Council meeting, Blaine Jones, City Council President said, "We have plenty of water if the citizens would follow the ordinance in place."

The water supply issue is a long-standing issue documented in an extensive study done by the city's contracted engineer, Stockwell Engineering, back in 2013. The city owned the contaminated well back then, but it wasn't yet connected to Brandon's water treatment or distribution system.

Tonka Water sold the city its iron and manganese removal system in 1998 and it also recently sold the city an HMO system (hydrous manganese oxide) to treat Well No. 7.

The company's district sales manager, T.J. Stroebl told KSFY News that the feed equipment for the HMO has been set up but couldn't provide any further details about whether the system was feeding HMO into the water, or if Well No. 7 was being used yet.

"I have young children," Guimont said. "My family's my concern. I want to know what's going in their drinking glasses."

KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh reached out to the City's contracted Principal Engineer, Jon Brown of Stockwell Engineering, to get those additional details on Monday, but was unable to coordinate a meeting time.

In the meantime, residents have been asking questions about radium levels in the water and aren't getting answers.

"I've gotten no response from anyone," Spencer Schenk, another Brandon resident said. "Actually, I contacted the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) in Pierre and that's where I've been getting my information from because it's pretty tight-lipped here in Brandon about what's going on with the radium levels."

Schenk moved to Brandon from Sioux Falls not too long ago. He said had he known about the water issues, he probably wouldn't have made the move.

The latest water quality report was distributed at a Nov. 6 City Council meeting. But the one result people were looking for -- Radium -- was missing from the report. The DENR tells KSFY News those samples typically take 45 days to process. In this case, the lab technician certified to test for Radium is on extended leave. The DENR said the Radium test would not be completed until late December.

Just days after that Nov. 6 meeting, the City's "Water Task Force," made up of council members, city staff, Stockwell Engineering and residents, met for the first time. At its first meeting, council member Don Wells, who's in charge of the committee, said he doesn't see a water quality issue.

"We don't fail any tests, our hardness is average," Wells said. "I feel halfway decent about our current water scenario."

But homeowners who say they're tired of not getting answers, are digging in their own pockets -- spending hundreds of dollars -- to find out what they're drinking. Many sent results to outside labs, but some sent tests to the DENR's lab as well. They said the results show high hardness levels and high total dissolved solids (TDS).

"Brandon has yet to produce any tests that contradict any of the private tests done," Jess Elofson, another Brandon resident, said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there are no associated health risks with TDS, but they can cause corrosion and build up on fixtures and appliances, as well as affect the taste of water.

WHO says water hardness, on the other hand, is associated with digestive issues and can cause flare-ups for people with eczema. It says there are also studies underway to determine whether there is a correlation with heart failure.

Stay with KSFY News as we continue to follow this developing story and please contact Erika Leigh at eleigh@ksfy.com with any Brandon water story tips or questions.



 
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