Praise for St. Paul water, as charges come down in Flint water crisis

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The Michigan attorney general has charged 3 government workers with misconduct and conspiracy to tamper with evidence for their roles in the Flint water crisis. In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton has spent the week focusing on water education and water quality, and Wednesday the spotlight was on the St. Paul water treatment plant, which EPA administrators have praised for being one of the best systems in the country.

“We think that we are a national model,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said of the city’s water system.

At a roundtable with Twin Cities metro mayors and county board commissioners, Gov. Dayton heard the challenges and efforts to keep providing clean water. The consensus: they’re doing a lot right.

“I’d say the water quality here in the metropolitan area is something people should be proud of,” Gov. Dayton said. “It’s safe, and it’s the polar opposite of Flint.” 

In Flint, Michigan, corrosive water has dissolved old lead pipes leading to a health crisis. But virtually no established big city water system is immune from lead pipes, including St. Paul.

“We still have about 11,000 lead water services in our system and we will continue to work with our customers to inform them about what they can do to minimize their exposure to lead in their system and do what we can on our end to make sure our water is non-corrosive,” said Steve Schneider, general manager of St. Paul Regional Water Services.

St. Paul started replacing its lead service lines in 1990 and the city is on track to finish in the next 20 years. If anyone does have a concern, the city offers free testing to homes with lead service lines. They will provide a bottle, which you fill up and bring in, and they will tell you the results. Get more info at

Water quality is also a central theme of Gov. Dayton’s bonding proposals. He’s asking for $220 million to help small cities across the state replace dated wastewater plants and drinking water systems. The legislature is still in the process  of figuring out how big that bonding bill will be.