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County to replace water-testing device

The price for dropping off mattresses at the Carlton County Transfer Station is going up next year, and 20-year-old laboratory equipment needs to be replaced.

Zoning and Environmental Services administrator Heather Cunningham introduced zoning technician Chris Berg to the county commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11, and let him explain why the department needs new equipment.

He said the department tests about 300 water samples annually at prices ranging from $50 to $70 each. The spectrophotometer used to test for nitrate and iron in drinking water is no longer providing reliable results. The replacement cost is $4,604. If the department purchases it before the end of the year, it can receive a 15 percent discount from the company, saving the county about $691. The department has $2,331 left in the budget and asked the board for the difference of $1,582 to purchase the equipment. The resolution passed.

The cost of mattresses recycling is going up because Goodwill Industries in Duluth is raising its price for services.

"The work is labor intensive," Cunningham said. Goodwill Industries will be increasing wages for the employees who disassemble the mattresses for recycling. The cost to recycle the clean and dry mattresses will increase from $12 to $13 each. To encourage residents to recycle, the cost to dispose of mattresses in the landfill will be raised from $16-$17 each. All price increases take place Jan. 1, 2019.

Goodwill Duluth processes more than 1,000 mattresses each month, according to its 2016-17 annual report. The foam, quilted toppers, cotton, wood and steel springs are all recycled or repurposed for reuse. That translates to 15 tons of cotton, 24 tons of foam, 36 tons of toppers, 64 tons of wood and 183 tons of steel being kept out of landfills a year.