City budget talk turns to water quality concerns


The Havre City Council's public hearing Tuesday night on the 2012 budget turned again to one of the city's most controversial topics, the city's water and it's unusual color.

Pam Harada, a resident who had come to ask the council about the water situation before, was one of two attendees with comments at the meeting. She came to ask about the budget's increase in water treatment chemical spending, from $268,000 to $327,000.

"Is that because you have found the problem with our orange water? " Harada said.

Jeff Jensen, deputy Havre Public Works Department Director, told Harada that there was no miracle cure for the water, which is being stained orange by manganese.

He assured her it is harmless to consume.

Harada said it was not harmless for her laundry, which had been ruined when recent hydrant draining made her water particularly orange.

The manganese, Jensen said, was being oxidized with chlorine after the water went through filters and into the distribution system.

For the past month however, the Public Works Department has been pumping chlorine into the the water before the filters, to oxidize and filter the manganese before it goes out. Jensen said that they couldn't find any manganese in the water since the change, though the system may still have residual manganese that may stick around until next spring at the latest.

The increase in chemical spending is a result of recent increases in chemical costs, both Jensen and City Clerk Lowell Swenson said.

Jensen said as oil prices go up, chemical prices follow suit, as does the cost of getting those chemicals all the way to Havre.

Swenson said the city had just paid a $4,000 chlorine bill, $2,000 for the actual chlorine and another $2,000 just for shipping.

Without any suggestions for changes in the budget, the council will meet again tonight at 6 to approve this budget to be sent off to the state.


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