City to help owners of private wells in Bemidji who may be affected by chemicals nearby



The program, established by Bemidji City Council on Monday, June 21, will be available to 19 landowners in the Bardwell Park neighborhood, located south of Anne Street and west of US Highway 71. At the West of the neighborhood is the area where the city’s water wells are located.

Over the past decade, the city has learned about chemicals known as PFAs in this area that were found in groundwater and then in wells. To meet state health and environmental standards, the city built a water treatment plant to remove chemicals entering the municipal supply.

While the city’s water is currently treated, it is possible that the chemical plume will continue to move east and enter private wells in the Bardwell Park area. However, testing has yet to show chemicals in the private wells.

Because of the risk, the city has created a new program for these residents, which has two components.

One is to waive the payment of any water access fee to area residents, which is estimated at $ 845 or $ 1,268. The other is to help cover the cost of the water connection fee, which can run up to around $ 4,000.

The program was approved with two motions, with council unanimously adopting the waiver for the water access charge. An amount of up to $ 4,000 was set for the other incentive, which was approved by a 6: 1 vote, with Mayor Jorge Prince, as well as council members Ron Johnson, Daniel Jourdain, Josh Peterson, Emelie Rivera and Audrey Thayer in favor, while Nancy Erickson was against.

The incentive program will be available until November 1, 2022.

Other board business

The council also invested in firefighting equipment on Monday with two motions. One motion concerned the Rural Fire Association, which contracts with the city.

The city recently built the Nymore Fire Station and purchased a new ladder truck. For an appropriate distribution of capital, according to the contract, the RFA will purchase the next fire truck with the associated costs, estimated at $ 1.1 million.

To do this, RFA needs $ 500,000 in short-term funding. The council accepted the funding, with a repayment schedule by the end of 2027.

Funding approval was made by 5-2, with Johnson, Jourdain, Peterson, Prince and Rivera in favor, while Erickson and Thayer were against. Council also unanimously approved a new $ 60,000 vehicle for the Deputy Fire Chief to visit inspection sites.

Another decision made by the council amended a proposed ordinance amendment allowing certain residents of rural areas of the city to be able to hunt with certain types of firearms. Many of the residents who were annexed last year from Northern Township were able to do so on their property under this government‘s rules.

Last year, these residents asked if hunting practices could continue and the city considered how to make that possible. An amendment to the ordinance has been devised and recently it has been considered by the City’s Deer Committee.

Two committee suggestions added to the amendment with council approval banned shotgun slugs and required a minimum property parcel size of five acres. The suggestions were approved by a 6-1 vote, with Erickson, Jourdain, Peterson, Prince, Rivera and Thayer in favor, while Johnson was against.

A public hearing on the amendment to the ordinance will be held at the next council meeting.


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