Photos By Gary Ussery
As a regional supplier of drinking water, the City of Fargo is laser-focused on ensuring citizens receive the best product possible. That’s where Troy Hall and his team come into play. As the Water Utility Director for Fargo, Hall is tasked with ensuring millions of gallons of water are safely distributed to the citizens of Fargo, West Fargo and the Cass Rural Water Users District each day.
In 2015, Hall and the City of Fargo began construction on a new $110 million expansion to the City’s Water Treatment Plant. Not only did this expand the plant’s total water capacity, but it also further refined the water’s quality and taste.
It came down to the type of water being distributed to the city. “It was a quality-driven project. That was the primary reason for expanding our plant capabilities,” Hall said.
Since the Water Treatment Plant uses water from the Red and Sheyenne Rivers, circumstances required an expanded plant capable of refining water that is difficult to treat. “Devils Lake started releasing into the Sheyenne River, which resulted in saltier water,” Hall said. “It made it more difficult for the original plant to treat that level of salt.”
Fargo maximized the value of the expansion by using the physical structure of the original plant, and all technologies found within it, to serve as the backbone of an expanded plant. The enhanced facility adds a suite of new purification methods to the City’s arsenal in responding to ever-changing water quality components.
The City opened its expanded Water Treatment Plant in mid-2019. The addition of the membrane water technologies incorporates processes to make our water more consistent in taste and smell. The expansion, complete with the additional physical space and new treatment tools, increases the plant capacity from 30 million gallons per day to 45 million gallons per day. “We’re built for the future and are prepared for the growth of the metro,” Hall remarked.
What Does The Upgraded Plant Mean For Your Water?
The membrane filtration system works to eradicate microscopic compounds from water. These compounds contribute to water hardness, which is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium. Water hardness can be noticeable when your drinking glasses become less than crystal clear. When using hard water, more soap or detergent is needed to get things clean.
As the plant is fine-tuned, customers will see and taste softer water coming from their sinks, tubs and showers. “The membrane doesn’t care what kind of water goes in,” Hall said. “It’s trying to produce the same end product each time.”
“One thing people talk about is the hardness in the water,” Hall said. “What the customers will find over time is, with the use of reverse osmosis, we’ll be much more consistent.”
That reverse osmosis system has been integral in the improvement of the City’s water. When spring runoff occurs, the process will remove any abnormal tastes and odor. “Reverse osmosis also does a better job of removing organic material from the water,” Hall said.
How Does The New Plant Impact You And The Water You Consume?
When you go to the tap for a cup of water before bed, what should you be expecting from the City of Fargo? Thanks to the new plant, you can expect great H₂O.
The City of Fargo operates with incredible precision when it comes to water quality.
“If you have a low-dose aspirin and cut about a third of that off and dissolve it into an Olympic size swimming pool, our technology can measure down to those aspirin particles in the swimming pool,” he said. “If we can see down to that amount, we think we’ll eradicate the compounds in water that alter taste and odor. We can measure down to one part per trillion!”
With that amount of precision and new technology at their fingertips, the City of Fargo is committed to ensuring a solid supply of excellent water.
Steps Of The New Water Treatment Process
Step 1: Pre-Treatment
Beginning with Red River or Sheyenne River water, the Fargo Water Treatment Plant initially pre-treats the water to remove mud, leaves or any other sources of debris present in the river water.
Step 2: Membrane Filtration
Pre-treated water in the plant expansion is then channeled through ultra-filtration membranes. The water is funneled into spaghetti noodle-like fibers, separating tiny particles from the water. This new membrane treatment train will remove sulfate and bromide from the water, which can impact taste and odor.
Step 3: Reverse Osmosis
The next step is reverse osmosis, which creates an ozone solution synthesis with the water. Reverse osmosis is used to make the water more pure and free from any taste or odor disparity. It also serves as a final checkpoint and pulverizes any final particles within the water.
Step 4: Distribution
Finally, the purified water is distributed to the citizens of Fargo, West Fargo and Cass County