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Brainerd working to decontaminate drinking water; boil order continues

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Brainerd residents may be boiling their water before drinking it for up to a week, as the city copes with contamination that followed a water main break.

As the Associated Press reports, the boil order, which also applies to water used for cooking, has been extended. The superintendent of Brainerd Public Utilities says it will last for a week or until further notice.

A notice on the Brainerd Public Utilities website explained a plan to add chlorine to the water system Saturday to disinfect it. Crews will then flush the system on Sunday.

BPU says the contamination may have occurred when the system lost pressure after a water main broke. That happened early Thursday, when many in the area were already without electricity due to severe thunderstorms with winds that downed trees and power lines.

The Brainerd Dispatch reports the state Health Department conducted tests on the city's drinking water after the pressure drop. One of the twelve tests came back positive for bacteria.

The city advised residents that the chlorine in the water system might loosen iron or manganese in pipes, which would discolor the water but would not pose a health risk.

People with health reactions to chlorine were advised to drink bottled water, which the city provided at a free distribution Saturday.

The Dispatch says Brainerd's landmark water tower is currently out of commission during repair work. The city is using a secondary tower that holds about three-fourths as much water as the primary tank's one million gallons.

The Health Department has a fact sheet with answers to many questions about community drinking water advisories.

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