Minneapolis City Councilor: Trust the Tap Water!

Many in the Hmong community pass on the city’s water, but one council member is hoping to change that.

The Minneapolis water plant draws 60 million gallons of water a day from the Mississippi River. (Photo by Mulad)

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A Minneapolis City Council member is helping an immigrant community save money, one glass of water at a time. Blong Yang told Minnesota Public Radio that many Hmong families in the area don’t trust the tap water — a carryover from their native Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and China.

“To be honest with you, I only drank from the tap maybe about three or four years ago,” Yang told MPR. “I’m college educated. I should know these things. I mean, still it’s ingrained with you. I mean it’s cultural for you.”

Hmong families line up at the grocery store to fill up jugs of filtered water for $.30 a gallon. Yang said that many will spend up to $50 a month buying water. That’s a steep price tag when you consider that, according to MPR, on average, Hmong families in Minnesota earn about $25,000 less annually than the statewide average.

So Yang set up a tour of the Minneapolis water treatment plant in Fridley, Minnesota, for about 20 Hmong people. As MPR reports:

The visitors saw the pumps that draw 60 million gallons of water a day from the Mississippi River. And the giant pools where the water is treated to remove bad-tasting minerals. Superintendent Annika Bankston showed them the laboratory where scientists constantly track water quality using sophisticated equipment — like a gas chromatograph-mass spectrophotometer.

The visitors even did a taste test between Dasani bottled water and the Minneapolis tap water. It ended in a tie.

“If I can crusade in some ways to get immigrant groups, especially Hmong folks but other folks as well, to not buy their water from the store and to use their tap water, we will save people countless amounts of money, and that’s a good thing,” he told MPR.

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Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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Tags: immigrationminneapoliscity water

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