According to a conversation I had on 8/30/96 with Stan Bayer, who is in charge of both the Morris drinking water supply and the city sewage treatment plant, the drinking water in Morris meets all U.S. EPA and Minnesota state standards for drinking water. The drinking water for Morris comes from four 80 to 90 ft. deep wells. Over 700,000 gallons a day are used by this city. The water is hard (40 to 45 grains of hardness) because of limestone layers above the aquifer. When the water is drawn from the ground 97% of the iron is removed.

There has been a problem with lead in the water in some houses. Between the 1930's and the 1950's plumbing pipes in homes in Morris may have contained lead. Also lead solder might have been used on the pipes. When water sits in the pipes overnight, lead can leach out of the pipes into the water. If you allow the water to run in the morning until you can feel the temperature turn colder, you will clear out the standing water in the pipes and bring in fresh water from the city supply, greatly reducing the lead content.

According to Stan Bayer the city adds zinc orthophosphate to the water at a rate of 3 parts per million per thousand gallons of water. This substance travels all the way to your house and coats the pipes, reducing the leaching of lead. Since the addition of this substance about six months ago, the amount of lead in the water in the 40 older homes with lead pipes that are tested regularly has shown a dramatic improvement in the reduction of lead. The state of Minnesota allows 15 parts per million of lead in drinking water. The Morris city water itself is free of lead when it comes from the ground. The testing in old houses is currently showing a rate of 8 parts per million of lead, exceeding both federal and state standards.

The city water supply is also tested daily in multiple locations for the proper amounts of chlorine and, fluorine. There are weekly tests for nitrate contamination.

If you have an older house and are worried about even the trace of lead that might be there, especially if you have an infant and need to mix formula with water, both Willie's Supervalu and Coburn's sell water filtered with a reverse osmosis filter. Many people buy the bottled water because the water in Morris, even though safe, doesn't taste very good.

The Morris waste water treatment plant processes over 150 million gallons of water a year and returns it to the Pomme de Terre River. The city of Morris has received awards for 4 consecutive years for being in compliance with state wastewater treatment standards.

UPDATE 5/2000

In a followup phone conversation with Mr. Bayer regarding both bacteria and arsenic in the Morris water supply, he had this to say. The federal standards are changing and within a year or so Morris will be required to test for arsenic in its water supply and will have to meet federal guidelines. He felt from tests already conducted the amount of arsenic in the Morris water supply is negligible and will be far less than the amount allowed by the new federal standards.

Apparently students at UMM tested a water sample and found bacteria growth in their results and contacted him about possible contamination in the Morris water supply. However, Mr. Bayer pointed out to them that if the sampling procedure is not correct the sample can become contaminated during sampling when there is no unsafe levels of bacteria in the water supply. He showed them how to take a proper sample and the results of that test for bacterial contamination were negative. The Morris water supply is tested on a regular ongoing basis and meets all federal safety standards.

Mr. Bayer also noted that in two or three years there will be federal standards for dissolved radon gas in the water supply and at that time Morris will begin testing for radon gas and treating the water if necessary.