City program shows success in clearing water problems

A city flushing program appears to have been successful in at least the short-term in clearing up water problems in two neighborhoods in Minot’s flooded valley.

The city developed a flushing program in October after receiving complaints about water discoloration and odor from residents in northwest Minot, south of Oak Park, and in the Green Valley addition in southeast Minot.

The treatment program included increasing the chorine content, adding fresh water and flushing heavily from the neighborhood pipelines. The city completed the program and has not received any feedback indicating problems remain, said assistant public works director Jason Sorenson.

Should a problem resurface, the city would resume the flushing program, he said. If a problem becomes chronic, the city would put the area at the forefront of its watermain replacement program to eliminate the old, cast-iron lines, he said.

Carolyn Moore, who lives in the Green Valley addition, said her water is better as long as flushing is continous. The city has constantly run water from a hydrant through a hose and will be installing an underground valve to continue flushing during the winter.

Moore said the problem in her area has existed since a water line break last March. The water had been clear when her family first moved back after the flood.

In northwest Minot, where the city focused its flushing program on a 10- to 12-block area, a few residents contacted all reported improvement in their water since the flushing treatment.

“Our water is clearer now,” said Rebecca Rosales-Olmos, who triggered a city investigation into water concerns when her private water sample tested positive for coliform contamination. The city later sampled water in the neighborhood and found no contamination, but a flushing program was instituted because of neighborhood concerns about the high iron content and poor quality of the water.

Rosales-Olmos said home tests show no contamination in her water now. The illnesses and skin sores that her family attributed to contaminated water have ceased.

The ongoing chlorine level remains higher than before the flushing treatment, Rosales-Olmos said, but she considers that preferable to bacteria in the water.

“I don’t mind the high chlorine. I just will not consume it,” she said. “At least we can wash our clothes in it and wash our dishes.”

Nathan Mugaas, a resident of the affected northwest area, said low chlorine levels were a concern before the flushing program and he will encourage the city to re-test the water to make sure that chlorine levels going forward remain adequate to keep the water safe. But he said it is good to have clear water coming from the tap again.