Posted 12/24/12 (Mon)
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City residents who jumped into the shower last Tuesday morning or took a big gulp of what was supposed to be a much improved quality of water had a big surprise. And it wasn’t the surprise that they were expecting.
With the arrival of treated Missouri River water from the recently completed Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWSA), Tuesday was supposed to be the day that Watford City residents would see and taste a noticeable improvement in the city’s water.
Instead, residents found themselves showering in or trying to drink super chlorinated water that left them with skin that smelled like they had just gotten out of a swimming pool, a burning of their eyes and a really bad taste in their mouth.
It was not exactly what city officials or city residents had in mind.
“We started getting phone calls right away on Tuesday morning from residents complaining about the chlorine smell and how the water was so cloudy,” stated Dawn Tschetter, city administrative assistant. “We also had complaints from some residents that their dark clothes were being lightened when washed because of the chlorine.”
The problem with the water supply not only caught city residents by surprise, but it sent city officials scrambling for answers.
“What we discovered was that a large amount of additional chlorine was inadvertently injected into our line,” stated Justin Smith, Watford City public works director. “Once we realized what was going on and that our lines were super chlorinated, we had to start over.”
What starting over for the city meant was dumping the two million gallons of new treated WAWSA water from the city’s holding tanks and reflushing all the city lines.
“We emptied the two million gallons of water from our tanks on Wednesday and began reflushing city hydrants on Thursday and then started refilling the tanks,” stated Smith.
Smith says that the cost of the two million gallons of water will be in the neighborhood of $10,000, but dumping the water was something the city had to do to get rid of the extra chlorine.
“It was what we had to do to get the right water flowing to city homes and businesses,” stated Smith.