Clean water flowing in Bagley again, more than 2 years after high manganese levels were detected

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BAGLEY, Iowa — Water is essential for life, but people in the small town of Bagley had to rely on bottled water for more than two years after high manganese levels were detected in its water supply.

“We restricted people from drinking it, using it for cooking, or feeding it to pets,” said Bagley city councilman Greg Irving. “Not even boiling it helped. When donations were gone, people just had to go and buy bottled water.”

Bagley’s wait ended this weekend. A new water system paid for with $1.2 million in grants now supplies the town of 300 people with the Xenia Rural Water District’s water.

The manganese levels in that supply were approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Friday, and city leaders posted notices on every door in town that the water was now safe to drink.

“It’s like winning the lottery, it’s amazing,” said Bagley mayor Ruth Riley. “We’ve waited a long time.”

“It’s a great day in Bagley,” said Irving. “After two and a half years, they can finally go over to their tap and make their own coffee.”

The water pressure is back as well, since the manganese built up and clogged the town’s pipes.

Andrew Vodneik, who has lived in the town for seven years, immediately took advantage of the new water.

“It’s a lot better than it was, a hundred times better,” Vodneik said.  “Nothing’s tying me down now, things get done a lot quicker. It doesn’t take me hours and hours to use the washing machine.”

Bagley’s water now flows beside Highway 141 from Jamaica to the new pumps, and it is stored in the town’s existing water tower.

The project was paid for with grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, and a Community Development Block Grant.

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