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City requests $17.5 million for new infrastructure

Posted 6/01/11 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

With Watford City busting at the seams with new growth, there is only one way for the community to grow. And that is to add more water and sewer lines into newly identified growth areas surrounding the city.
“We’re having a crisis getting new water and sewer lines in the outlying areas where all of the development and growth is occurring,” states Curt Moen, Watford City planner. “The city needs to be able to grow beyond our existing city limits, and we need to get the needed infrastructure into these growth areas to meet the growth demand.”
And to make those improvements, the City of Watford City is looking for just over $17.5 million in state assistance.
“During the past legislative session, the state allocated $65 million for smaller cities, such as Watford City, in the oil impacted areas of western North Dakota to apply for state funds to meet infrastructure improvements,” states Moen. “Our request in state aid under this program is needed to help us meet the crisis that we’re facing.”
According to Moen, of the $17.5 million that the city is requesting, $13.5 million is needed just to expand the city’s water and sewage systems into the new growth areas.
“The biggest improvement that we need to make immediately is to our sewer system,” states Moen. “Our existing trunk lines don’t have the capacity to move the effluent to our lagoon system.”
As part of its request, the city is proposing to expand its water and sewer system south and west of Watford City along U.S. Highway 85 and east of the city along N.D. Highway 23 to past the golf course.
In addition, the request of state assistance includes just under $4 million in road and street improvements in Watford City.
According to Moen, if the improvements are made, the city’s sewer system would be able to accommodate a population of 5,000.
As part of the sewer improvements, the city is proposing to install aerators into the lagoons to help eliminate the odor issues.
“Installing aerators is very high on our list of priorities,” stated Moen. “We hope to have the aerators installed this summer which will be a big help to area residents.”
While Moen acknowledges that the city residents won’t see many of the infrastructure improvements  that are being proposed, they will see some of the benefits.
“Obviously, the elimination of the lagoon odors will be a huge benefit to city residents,” states Moen. “But by bringing city water and sewer systems into these new growth areas, city residents won’t see lagoons popping up just outside the city limits. Plus developers of industrial parks will be able to move their proposed facilities farther away from the city limits.”
The biggest beneficiary of the proposed expansion of the city’s water and sewer system is going to be the developers of housing subdivisions  and industrial parks.
“The very first question every developer asks is how far is the city’s water and sewer from their proposed development,” states Moen. “If we can show them that we have these services available next to their property, the project becomes a ‘go.’ Developers expect to have water and sewer service available to them, and with these improvements, the city will have it available to them.”
However, according to Moen, as the city expands its water and sewer services into these areas, the developers will have to ask to be annexed into the city limits.
“Everybody that will be receiving the new services, will have to be included within the city limits,” states Moen. “And as our infrastructure moves into the outlying areas, the city’s tax base improves because we’re bringing new land and new commercial and residential property onto our tax rolls.”
“All of the projects that we are requesting funding for are shovel-ready,” states Moen. “They are ready to be built this summer, which is why we are hopeful that we will receive funding for them.”
According to Moen, cities have until June 7 to submit their applications for funding assistance from the state.
“We think that it should be a fairly quick process of having the requests funded,” stated Moen. “We are hoping that we will know by the first part of July how much money we’re going to be receiving so that we can get started on these improvements.”