Manganese in Drinking Water

Manganese in Drinking Water

Manganese is a metal found naturally in the Earth's crust, which means it can be found in your well or spring water. It is an essential nutrient for the human body and is found in some foods. However, too much manganese in the body can cause health effects.

Health Concerns: Is manganese harmful to my health?

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

High levels of manganese may also cause: 

  • a metallic taste
  • a bad smell
  • rusty-colored water
  • mineral deposits on toilets, sinks and bathtubs
  • sedimentation (for example, small particles of iron settling at the bottom of a water glass)
  • brown or black staining on laundry or surfaces that come in contact with the water

None of these effects poses a health risk.

Source: How does manganese get into my water?

Manganese is a metal found naturally in the Earth's crust. As rainwater moves through natural rock formations underground, it can dissolve manganese and carry it into aquifers that serve as sources of drinking water.

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

Testing is the only way to know if manganese is in your drinking water.

The Health Department recommends testing your well or spring for manganese every five years. You can order an inorganic chemical test (Kit C) from the Health Department Laboratory, or you can use another certified drinking water lab to test for inorganic chemicals.

Test Results: Is my result a problem?

The Health Department has set an advisory level for manganese at 0.300 mg/L (milligrams per liter) to protect the nervous system. If the manganese level in your water is more than (>) 0.300 mg/L, the Health Department recommends treating your water. 

If the manganese level is between 0.050 mg/L and 0.300 mg/L, there may be: 

  • a metallic taste
  • a bad smell
  • rusty-colored water
  • mineral deposits on toilets, sinks and bathtubs
  • sedimentation (for example, small particles of iron settling at the bottom of a water glass)
  • brown or black staining on laundry or surfaces that come in contact with the water

None of these pose a health risk. Generally, manganese concentrations below 0.050 mg/L will not cause staining or a bitter taste.

Need help understanding your drinking water test results? Find out how to read your results

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

Manganese can be lowered or removed from drinking water with one of the treatment systems listed below.

Re-test your drinking water 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 the On-Site Loan Program at 802-461-6051.

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 Group in your region.

Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants
This program offers loans and grants to existing 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 a grant. Younger applicants are eligible only for loans.

Burlington, South Burlington, Essex Junction, Winooski and parts of Colchester are ineligible for the program. 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 the USDA Rural Development Office at 802-828-6022.