Clear results for North St. Paul’s drinking water

This week, North St. Paul released its annual drinking water quality report, and the results were crystal clear: all tested contaminants were below state standards.

Public Works Director Scott Duddeck says that the good report is the results of regular water testing — every two weeks, in fact.

“We do water sampling every two weeks, at random throughout the city,” Duddeck explained. “We have five wells at five different locations and two water towers that store 800,000 gallons of water. And all we add to the water is fluoride, which is based on Department of Health laws.”

Each of the tested contaminants, which include arsenic, barium, fluoride, nitrate and coliform bacteria, were below Maximum Contaminant Level, or the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water.

The original sample test for coliform bacteria showed that the amount of bacteria present was above acceptable levels, but after re-sampling the water, the original sample was determined to be contaminated, Duddeck said.

“For safety’s sake we tested 50 more samples,” he said. “Sometimes you get a false positive. We take it very seriously.”

The city’s water comes from the Prairie Du Chien-Jordan aquifer. In White Bear Lake, excessive pumping of the aquifer has led to a seven-foot drop in the city’s eponymous lake.

Duddeck says North St. Paul has been monitoring how city lakes are affected by the aquifer and has not noticed any “significant drops.”

“Last year, it was so hot and dry so early, that people were watering their lawns in March,” he said. “We pumped almost a half a billion gallons of water last year. This year, being cooler and wet, our pumping has been down significantly.

“And we’re a smaller city — if you put the bigger cities around us in that mix, it really makes you think about how much water is being pumped.”

The city has been improving its water facilities in order to better measure how much water is being pumped, Duddeck added.

“We’re currently going through our well houses to do maintenance and upgrades. When you have a pump that’s 150 horsepower in a 10 by 12 (foot) building, that generates an enormous amount of heat, so we’re working on ventilation.”

Additionally, the city began replacing old water meters with new wireless meters in April. These meters will measure more accurately the amount of water that residents use. Many of the meters being replaced are originals to the homes that were built in the 1940s and 1950s, Duddeck said.

He added that although the installations are currently taking place on specific routes, residents may call the public works department at 651-747-2409 to have their meter replaced sooner.

To view the results of the drinking water quality report, visit the city’s website at

Johanna Holub can be reached at or 651-748-7814.

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