Manganese in Drinking Water

Manganese is an essential metal needed for the body to function. Small amounts of manganese are added to most vitamin supplements and baby formulas to make sure people get enough. Some common dietary sources of manganese are nuts, tea, leafy greens and whole grains. Your daily intake of manganese will depend on your food choices, and it includes the water you drink.

Manganese is also found in some rocks and soils in Vermont and can get into groundwater. Manganese can be a problem for well owners for two reasons:

  1. It can cause a bitter taste.
  2. It can cause black stains on plumbing fixtures and laundry.
Health Concerns: Is manganese harmful to my health?

Consuming too much manganese over a long period of time could harm your nervous system. Studies suggest that babies may be especially sensitive when fed formula made with well water that has high amounts of manganese.

Testing: How do I know if manganese is in my water?

The Health Department recommends testing your private water source for manganese every five years.

Levels of manganese in drinking water are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Vermont. The Health Department has set an advisory level for manganese at the EPA’s lifetime health advisory of 0.300 mg/L (milligrams per liter) to protect the nervous system.

And as a general rule, manganese concentrations below 0.050 mg/L will not cause staining or a bitter taste.

Order a test kit for manganese

Treatment Options: Can I remove or lower the levels of manganese in my water?

Manganese can be lowered or removed from drinking water with treatment.

Specialty Filters

Manganese is removed as the water flows through the filter.

Oxidation Filtration

This treatment that uses chlorine, air, or peroxide followed by a filter.

Cation Exchange Treatment

A conventional water softener (also called a cation exchange softener) exchanges manganese for sodium or potassium, which remains in the water. The manganese is flushed away with the wastewater when the softener is cleaned. This type of treatment is typically installed as a whole house system (point-of-entry).

Re-test for manganese after any treatment system is installed to make sure levels are below the advisory level.

Financial Assistance: Is there funding available to help me pay for water system or treatment?

Vermont Wastewater and Potable Water Revolving Loan Fund

This program, also known as the On-site Loan Program, is available to certain Vermont residents for the repair or replacement of failed water supply and on-site wastewater systems. The On-site Loan Program is funded and administered by the Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation with loan underwriting and servicing provided by the Opportunities Credit Union in Winooski. Your drinking water supply has to be a failed system and you must be living in the residence on a year-round basis to be eligible. The family income cannot exceed 200% of the state median household income. For more information about eligibility and how to apply, call 802-461-6051 or visit the website.

The NeighborWorks Alliance of Vermont

The NeighborWorks Alliance is made up of five local organizations offering full affordable housing services for income-eligible individuals. You may qualify for help from this program if you need money to install a water treatment system, drill a well, or repair or replace your septic system. For more information on eligibility, contact the local NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center in your region.

Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants

This program offers loans and grants to exiting homeowners for well construction, repair and sealing. It's administered by the Rural Development office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is for low-income families who live in a rural area or a community with a population of 25,000 or less. The family income cannot exceed 50% of the median county income. Individuals who are 62 years of age or older may qualify for a grant or a combination of a loan and grant. Younger applicants are eligible only for loans.

Burlington, South Burlington, Essex Junction, Winooski and parts of Colchester are ineligible for the program because of population. Even if your property is in an eligible area, your eligibility is still subject to income limits. For more information or to find out if your property is in an eligible area, call 802-828-6022 or visit the website.