No matter the season, Kris Knutson '03 has water on his mind.
He plays a key role in water quality as Moorhead Public Service's water division manager, work he was introduced to as a student intern.
As a biology major and chemistry minor at Concordia, Knutson always thought he would end up conducting research. However, water management wasn’t on his radar until he participated in a research co-op at Moorhead Public Service with Dr. Mark Jensen, professor of chemistry.
The internship led to a full-time position at MPS as a facility operator.
“I was a technician, mostly doing the dirty work like chemistry tests and turning water pumps on and off,” Knutson says.
The science of water intrigued him, and eventually Knutson attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota Duluth for chemistry. A supervisory job in Moorhead opened up shortly after his graduation.
Recently, Moorhead received the “Best in Glass” award for the best-tasting water in Minnesota. Moorhead water won the award at the annual convention of the Minnesota chapter of the American Water Works Association in Duluth. This is the third year Moorhead has won the award.
For Knutson, the designation is one of the highlights of his career – second only to a visit from “Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe, who visited the treatment plant in 2011.
The cities of Moorhead and Fargo both use the Red River as their water source, and both use ozonation as part of their process to disinfect the water, Knutson says.
“Ozone is really good at taking out the compounds that make water smell,” he says.
Ozone is a gas that is bubbled into the water. It has germicidal properties and helps eliminate a variety of inorganic, organic and microbiological problems that affect taste and odor.
Moorhead is currently the only city in the state that uses ozonation to treat its water, Knutson says.