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Sparkling results on city water tests

Bette Kambeitz, general manager of Kum & Go in Dickinson, turns on the tap at the store Wednesday. Kambeitz said the store is part of monthly city water tests. Press Photo by Beth Wischmeyer

Dickinson residents can feel safe drinking tap water after a yearly report came back clean.

Throughout the year, Dickinson spends time testing various sites for the safety of drinking water. Recently, the city, along with other cities throughout the state, released annual Drinking Water Quality Reports, state officials said.

"I never worry about it (my water)," said Bette Kambeitz, general manager of Kum & Go in Dickinson. "It's always been good."

Water is tested monthly at 15 places in Dickinson. Every three years the city tests water at select residences for substances such as copper and lead, said Skip Rapp, Dickinson Public Works manager, adding that the last test was in August 2007.

Kum & Go is just one of the sites tested monthly.

"They come here so often to check it I hardly pay attention to them anymore," Kambeitz said. "They just come in here and take water from the tap. It takes about five minutes."

"We submit a plan to the North Dakota Department of Health," Rapp said. "Tests are done at homes and businesses."

Dickinson's 2008 report came up with no alarming issues, Rapp said, with only one site exceeding the acceptable level of lead, which may have been due to outside causes.

"We had to do a retest," Rapp said. "We don't even have to report that but we do because we had one house in town that came above what the action level was. Went back and did a retest and it came back fine."

Homeowners collect the samples through set guidelines and submit them to the city. Any tests which may be in violation are retested.

Officials are looking for chloramine, bacteria and nitrates, among others.

Elevated levels of lead can cause a variety of health problems such as vomiting and seizures, according to the North Dakota Department of Health Web site.

A total of 66 sites are tested in town, 33 for lead and 33 for copper, Rapp said. The number of sites is based on population.

Rapp said he isn't aware of any substantial water issues in the past.

Once the test is complete, results are sent to consumers with their utility bills. "When that's done then there is a certification form that we fill out and then submit to the North Dakota Department of Health," Rapp said.

Reports are an annual requirement, said Wayne Kern, director of the division of municipal facilities of the NDDH.

Kern said if there is a problem, cities alert the public.

"It's another way to keep consumers aware of the quality of their drinking water," he said.

There are issues with drinking water throughout the state.

"We've had some instances in the state where we've had natural fluoride in the water that was above the allowable limit," Kern said. "A lot of that was in the southwest part of the state, but a lot of those communities have gotten their water supply from another system."

Issues such as naturally occurring arsenic and short-term bacterial issues have occurred, but are usually quickly resolved, he added.

"In general, the compliance rate of water systems in North Dakota is really quite high," Kern said. "Most of the problems are very short-lived."

As for the quality of water in Dickinson, Kambeitz said she's pleased.

"The coffee machine is hooked up to the tap and is automatic," Kambeitz said. "We have delicious coffee."

The report is available online at