BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Bismarck city officials are advising residents and businesses of a multiple-day water service disruption that will affect an area of about two blocks downtown, starting Saturday, December 3.

City crews will be working to shut down water service to buildings along Fifth Street between Main Avenue and Thayer Avenue on Saturday morning to disinfect the water main.

Affected buildings south of Broadway Avenue are anticipated to have water restored for recommended toilet use by Saturday afternoon.

Affected buildings north of Broadway Avenue will not have service restored through at least Monday morning.

Addresses of buildings affected by the shutdown:

  • 413, 417, 418, 419, 423 East Broadway
  • 108, 110, 112, 114, 116, 118, 120, 220, 221 North Fifth Street
  • 420, 422 East Main
The area of the city where water disruptions are being planned to start Dec. 3.

The Bismarck Public Works Utility Operations and Engineering departments have been working for the past month to resolve this water quality issue. Public Works began flushing water systems at the end of October, following a routine water quality test in an area of new construction that tested positive for bacteria collectively known as “coliforms.”

Public Works lab technician Emily Schauer takes a water sample from a private service line inside one of the impacted buildings in downtown Bismarck. (Photo: City of Bismarck)

Coliforms generally are not harmful and are naturally present in the environment, such as in soils and well water. The bacteria are often an early indicator that other, potentially harmful bacteria could become present. However, the city stresses that all testing has confirmed other harmful bacteria are not present in the water.

Public Works routinely tests water quality in more than 40 locations throughout Bismarck, with 80 samples tested every month. The two-block area downtown is the only location in which coliforms were present in these early indication tests.

“By performing disinfection in this specific area now, we are proactively increasing our chances that we won’t have greater concerns down the road,” said City Engineer Gabe Schell. “We appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this process. We understand this may be inconvenient for residents and businesses in the area, but we want to make sure everyone understands this type of system care for our city’s infrastructure is a need and not just a want.”

Public Works and Engineering are working with managers in the affected buildings and bottled water will be provided to those residents and businesses. If businesses or residents experience problems during the process, they are asked to contact Michael Mart with the Engineering Department at (701) 355-1528.  

“Our drinking water is held to the highest standard,” said Public Works Utility Operations Director Michelle Klose. “We will need to further evaluate our options if we do not get the appropriate testing results on Monday.”

Additional water evaluations within the buildings and intense system scouring have been conducted over the past week with city departments such as Public Works, Engineering, Community Development, and the Bismarck Fire Department. These efforts have improved water quality, but not enough to avoid the disruption in water service.