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Calcium deposits lead to scrutiny of Bismarck water

June 17, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Some north Bismarck residents are alarmed about the calcium deposits in their water, even though officials have said the water is safe to drink.

When Bill Wood cleaned out his home’s faucet filter, he found sand-like flakes.

“My two grandkids that come over to my house every other week, I’m concerned about their welfare,” Wood told the Bismarck Tribune . “Is it safe for them to take a shower or a bath? I don’t know.”

Bismarck’s director of utility operations, Michelle Klose, said the residue doesn’t present a health risk for people.

The residue is forms of calcium from a water chemical reaction.

Klose described the problem as “solids precipitation,” and said it has been found in at least 64 homes. She noted the issue is most prevalent in newer homes.

Greg Wavra, administrator of the North Dakota Drinking Water Program, said the drinking water meets requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. And calcium buildup, he noted, “isn’t anything new” in water systems.

“When you look at a water tap and you see that white, scaly stuff sometimes, that’s what that is, it’s just that precipitate coming out of solution around those fixtures,” Wavra said.

But complaints have been rolling in from affected homeowners, prompting the city to address the issue first through a letter in May then an informational session earlier this month.

Decreased water pressure has also been an issue residents experienced.

Klose noted that magnesium heating rods may cause the calcium sediments to show up when the water is heated.

The city suggested that homeowners switch to aluminum heating rods and lower the temperature of water heaters to mitigate the problem.

Wood said he won’t replace his plumbing, adding his water heater doesn’t have magnesium.

“We’re trying to pull the right resources together with the homeowners to see if we can try and help them find some solutions,” Klose said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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