It’s not exactly been a secret, the City of St. Cloud and its residents have been dealing with discoloration problems due to the presence of resin in its water since the first customer complaints began surfacing in 2016, and then peaked in 2020 amid the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially caused by a failed polisher in its water plant #4 in 2013, the city has been attempting to rid the system of the issue since City Manager Bill Sturgeon took over the helm in 2017 using multiple methods, like ice pigging, line swabbing, and flushing its pipes.
Ice Pigging is an effective pipe cleaning technique in which a brine ice slurry is moved through the network to remove unwanted material, sediment, or product residues from the pipe. The Ice Pig is capable of navigating complex pipework which may incorporate changes in pipe diameter, bends, valve systems and other obstructions with no risk of becoming stuck. It is fast, effective and exceptionally low risk (it just melts away), using significantly less water than many other techniques.
Yet, some customers, certainly many less than when the problem first arose, are still reporting some discoloration in their water, so the city is continuing to work hard at removing any resin that is eluding them.
According to City Manager Bill Sturgeon, the city has ice pigged 27 miles of pipe, swabbed 36 miles, and flushed 105 miles of pipe, and they’re not done yet. They are planning line swabbing 8 more miles of pipe, and 30 more miles of ice pigging, all to ensure that the problem is solved, and as Sturgeon said to make sure this will never happen again. OUC and Toho Water Authority are assisting the City of St. Cloud in the ice pigging process by opening and closing water valves as needed.
“This has certainly been a long, painful, and frustrating journey and I can’t imagine how frustrating it certainly has been for our residents who have been directly impacted by this issue,” said St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell. The mayor pointed out that he and all the city council members live within the city and have also been affected by the water issue and that they too want this issue resolved.
“Our goal is to not only remove the resin from the system but to restore our community’s faith in their city government and in our ability to provide good, clear, healthy drinking water,” Mayor Blackwell shared during the news conference.
According to Blackwell, the city council and all the city staff are committed to continuing to follow all the industry standards and recommendations that are brought before them. The city council recently approved the spending of an additional $500,000 for another round of ice pigging.
Sturgeon said in the news conference that several weeks ago he made the decision to bring into the process an incident management team with the responsibility to command, control, and coordinate all the resources that the city needs to address the issue.
This of course is happening while some customers say they are still seeing some discoloration in their water.
According to the Director of Environmental Utilities Marjorie Craig, they are working to remove the last of orange magnetic ionic exchange resin from the pipes that was sent out from failed treatment plant #4. “The resin can be sneaky, and hide in places in the pipes that don’t ordinarily get flushed,” Craig said.
The city is asking its water customers that may still be experiencing problems with their water to call 407.957.7344.
“Our commitment is to resolve this issue 100%, by putting all the resources necessary to make sure this problem never happens again,” said City Manager Bill Sturgeon.”
The city will be holding a press conference every Friday at 2 pm.