Posted 3/30/11 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
Driven by western North Dakota’s recent oil boom, the state’s population rose by 4.7 percent during the last 10 years, and McKenzie County’s population rose 10.9 percent during that decade to 6,360 people.
Some communities in western North Dakota feel that census numbers are much lower than they should be, but that’s not the case for Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford.
“The census numbers for Watford City are a little higher than we expected,” says Sanford. “That said, I think there are more people in Watford City than the census shows because more people have moved here since April.”
According to the 2010 census, Watford City has 1,744 people, an increase of 21.53 percent since the 2000 census showed 1,435 people.
“In 1990 there were 1,784 people in Watford City and in 1980, the census showed 2,119,” adds Sanford. “Right now, I think Watford City’s population is larger than it was in 1990.”
Sanford feels that the reason Watford City seems larger now than it was in 1990, even though the census shows that it has fewer people, is due to a number of transients living in the area.
“If you look at the areas filled with campers, you see a lot of people who were not counted in the census and are not here permanently,” says Sanford. “When we did the special assessment this fall, it estimated 2,500 people living in Watford City, and that included a lot of those campers.”
With so much oil activity and people moving in and out of the community on a regular basis, it is impossible to get an accurate count, but Sanford is still pleased with the census number.
“Even though we know that there are more than 1,744 people living in Watford City, the census number is still higher than what we expected it to be and that is a good thing,” states Sanford. “It means a lot to have higher numbers than expected because a lot of our funding comes from the census numbers.”