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Green Bay Water has emergency backup wells that are rarely needed, but are critical to maintain in case the water pressure system drops at an alarming rate. If we did not use our backup wells, the decrease in flowage poses risk to the integrity of the water (chlorine levels), the pressure in the pipes (to prevent further damage) and can compromise fire protection. So, while having the backup wells makes our city safer, they do not ultimately have the same quality as our standard, Lake Michigan surface water (which we love).
Early Sunday morning on July 4th, a large water main burst on Dousman Street, and the system lost pressure fast. The backup well for that area was triggered to kick in for the reasons stated above. It flowed for about forty minutes just after 12:30 am. Because of the immediacy and overnight hours, the 200-some customers this water could have traveled to were not alerted to its usage ahead of time, which we usually like to give in the rare instance that we use the wells. We worked hard to turn the well off quickly, in less than an hour. Still, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants those customers to know if they had the potential to be exposed to this well water.
In short, our local health officials do not believe this incidence affected the health of our customers. However, the radium in this well exceeds Wisconsin’s maximum contamination levels (“MCL”) established by the Wisconsin DNR. The maximum contaminant level for combined radium-226 and radium-228 is 5 pCi/L and our well tests at combined radium-226 and radium-228 is 6 pCi/L, so we are one picocurie over the MCL. Because of this short-term usage, the WDNR had us mail this postcard to these customers (access the map here).
If you are a person of compromised health who has concerns, you need to contact your primary care physician or the Brown County Health Department. If you have questions about the process, you can call us during business hours or email Andrea Hay at any time. If you have questions about the notification requirements, language used on the postcards or the radium itself, you can contact Wendy Anderson of the Wisconsin DNR.