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Fargo reports elevated bromate level in water in December; no risk to public

Water is filtered in the final stages of the treatment process at the Fargo Water Treatment Plant in south Fargo. Forum file photo

FARGO—The city of Fargo put out a notice that its drinking water failed to conform to EPA standards for bromate concentration over a nine-day period last month.

The standard average is 0.010 milligrams per liter, while Fargo's sample was 0.088 mg/L, the city announced in a news release on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Bromate forms when ozone, used to disinfect drinking water, reacts with naturally-occurring bromide found in source water, it said.

Dr. John Baird, Health Officer for Fargo Cass Public Health, said a bromate limit for drinking water is set over concern that some people exposed to high levels over many years may have an increased risk of cancer, but he sees no cause for concern.

"I see no health risk to our community from the short time that bromate levels were over the established limit," Baird said.

During that nine-day period in December, Sheyenne River water was being used in the Fargo Water Treatment Plant and a mechanical failure with equipment that monitors the ozone process resulted in incorrectly low ozone readings.

Bromide concentrations are typically higher in the Sheyenne River than the Red River, the city said.

The city said it took immediate steps to correct the issue, including daily sampling for bromate at two plant locations.

The city stopped using Sheyenne River water on December 15 and bromate concentrations, correspondingly, reduced dramatically.

In addition to the public notice, the city is mailing postcards to its drinking water consumers in Fargo, West Fargo and the Cass County Rural Water District.