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There is no quality issue with water from the Minot Water Treatment Plant, despite a letter sent to the public discussing a failed water test in November.
Mark Paddock, Water Treatment Plant Superintendent, said Minot’s water is safe to drink, and it always has been despite a collection mistake that led to the letter.
“There are no quality concerns with the water that is treated and distributed through the Minot Water Treatment Plant,” Paddock said. “It was a simple mistake in our collection process. Every follow-up test done after we realized the issue happened has come back negative. Every one.”
Here’s what happened in November that resulted in the letter being sent to the public:
One sample sent to First District Health Unit tested positive for coliform. That triggered a notice from the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality to the City to do a retest from the site that failed, as well as new samples from raw water at the Water Treatment Plant, a site upstream from the one that failed, and a site downstream from the one that failed.
The new upstream and downstream samples were collected, but two new samples were collected from the site where the original sample failed, and no new sample was collected from the raw water at the plant. When staff realized the error, it was too late to include the proper raw water sample with the regular monthly testing. That error triggered the requirement to send out the letter to the public.
“We have no choice in what that letter says or how it’s worded,” Paddock said. “The State Health Department sends us that letter, and we must use their required language.”
All of the new samples collected tested negative for coliform, Paddock said. Many samples have been taken and tested since November, and none have failed.
Staff members from the Water Treatment Plant collect 50 water samples every month: two from each of 25 testing sites. The 25 sites are a mixture of locations owned by the City of Minot (booster stations, pump stations, etc.) and private locations, mostly businesses. The sites are chosen by Paddock, and are approved by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. They are spread out in every section of Minot to insure the samples adequately represent the entire water system.
After the samples are collected, they are sent to the First District Health Unit, which accepts samples Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of every week.
Paddock said samples can easily be contaminated, and his staff takes every precaution against contamination. But just because you have a bad sample doesn’t mean you have bad water.
“The bottles are small; I think they hold about 50 milliliters of water,” he said. “When you take the cap off, you can’t touch the inside of it or the edges of the bottle. You can’t set the cap down or upside down because anything floating in the air can contaminate the inside of the cap and the sample. You can’t sneeze or cough when you’re holding the bottle or the cap.”
When taking a sample, the water is run for a prescribed amount of time before the sample bottle is filled and capped.