To the Editor:

I drove to Burger King recently, where the meal was excellent, but the soft drink was not. The taste of chlorine was overwhelming. This is not Burger King's fault. The fault belongs to the municipal water supply. However, it is only reacting to the quality of the water given. The fault lies further back in the chain.

The Firesteel Creek watershed begins in the Wessington Springs area and ends at Mitchell. The farming community along this watershed is likely responsible for the high concentration of nitrogen from crop fertilization runoff. This nitrogen is responsible for the yearly algae bloom in Lake Mitchell.

Recently it has been noted the lake also has a high concentration of fecal bacteria. That indicates livestock along the creek are also poisoning our water supply. It may also be possible that lakeside residents who do not subscribe to our municipal sewage system and Firesteel Creek residents further upstream may be dumping their sewage overflow into the creek and the lake.

Quite often when I cross the West End Bridge, I smell raw sewage. That smell should not be present at any time. It's easy for me to conclude that a handful of people up and down Firesteel Creek are poisoning the water supply of 15,000 residents.

I suggest we not use any water from Lake Mitchell for residential consumption. We should, at least for the near future, receive 100 percent of our water supply from the Missouri River pipeline. Then, we should take steps to clean up the Firesteel Creek watershed and hold the polluters lawfully responsible.

Farming and land management preferences do not trump the safety and well-being of 15,000-plus citizens. This problem has been swept under the rug numerous times in the past by numerous city administrations who are beholden to the Mitchell Area Chamber Of Commerce.

If Mitchell loses their agricultural profits, we will have less to spend on vital infrastructure, such as bike paths.

We have a new mayor willing to listen more to common sense and less to chamber control. The time has come to knock on his door.

Ray and Dorthea Berlin

Mitchell