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Red River neighbors Fargo and Moorhead battle over best-tasting water

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When the cities of Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota, come up in conversation, it usually has something to do with water. That's because the two border towns are separated by the Red River, which routinely floods each spring and has in the past caused catastrophic damage.

But Fargo and Moorhead – and water – were in the news recently for a more positive reason: Both cities recently won competitions for having the best-tasting tap water in their respective states.

Fargo won the 2014 “Best Tasting Drinking Water” award at North Dakota’s annual American Water Works Association convention Oct. 15 in Fargo. It beat out Grand Forks, Bismarck, Mandan, Valley City, Wahpeton, Mayville and Lisbon for the honor.

Moorhead picked up the “Best in Glass” award at a similar convention Sept. 11 in Duluth, Minn., against 13 other cities in Minnesota. Both cities have taken home the state awards before, but never in the same year, the Fargo Forum reports.

Can you guess where their tap water comes from? The Red River.

Public works officials from Fargo and Moorhead say the key to turning river water into the tastiest drinking water is ozone. Both cities use ozone technology to treat their water, the Fargo Forum notes.

Both cities built their water treatment facilities in the mid-1990s, when ozone treatment was relatively new and considered state of the art.

According to the Water Research Center, ozone, a colorless gas, is more effective than chlorination against bacteria and viruses.

"In addition, the oxidizing properties can also reduce the concentration of iron, manganese, sulfur and reduce or eliminate taste and odor problems," the research center notes.

Fargo and Moorhead will go up against each other in the national competition in June of next year. But it'll be a very friendly competition, since officials from both cities frequently work together, according to the Fargo Forum.

“Whatever happens would be great for the area if one of the systems does well,” Troy Hall, Fargo’s water utilities director, told the Fargo Forum. “It’ll be friendly bragging rights,” he added.

Moorhead also won the best-tasting tap water in the state in 2009 and 2010. Other Minnesota cities that have won include St. Cloud (2011), International Falls (2012) and Duluth (2013).

Fargo also won the North Dakota award in 2011.

And in case you were wondering, the city of Boston won the national award for the best-tasting tap water this year.

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