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WAWS brings water to western North Dakota

Posted 5/09/12 (Wed)

By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer

The Western Area Water Supply Project (WAWSP) was enacted through House Bill 1206. The goal of the $110 million project is to provide potable water to municipal and rural residents throughout western North Dakota.
Last year, a Board of Directors was put in place to begin work on the project. Denton Zubke, McKenzie County Water Resource District, was selected as chairman with other board members named from Williams Rural Water, the City of Williston, the Burke, Divide and Williams (BDW) Water System Association and the Ray & Tioga (R&T) Water Supply Association, along with a state engineer, to form the Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWSA).
“Western North Dakota has always struggled with providing potable water to its municipal and rural residents,” says Zubke. “This project has a tremendous impact on alleviating a persistent problem for our residents and for the area’s growth.”
The WAWSA currently has 4,000 requests for rural water in McKenzie, Williams, Burke, Divide and Mountrail counties.
Zubke and the WAWSA broke the entire project into three phases. In the past year, nearly all of Phase I has been completed, which includes the Williston Bypass Transmission Line, the Northwest Williston Regional 5 Million Gallon Reservoir, the Regional Transmission line to Crosby and BDW and the McKenzie County System IV Rural Water System.
The only piece of Phase I that has not been completed is the Regional Water Service System planned for Alexander. When the project began, the WAWSA planned to serve the 100 Alexander area residents that applied for inclusion into the system. That number has since jumped to about 350 in the last year.
“This piece of the project was originally estimated to cost about $3.7 million,” explains Zubke. “It’s now looking like it will cost more like $16 million.”
Budgetary changes, like that of the Alexander piece of the WAWS, have nearly stretched the $110 million budget to its breaking point. Phase II projects are about to begin, but the WAWSA has already awarded $78 million in contracts, according to Zubke.
Funding to help with the continuation of the project will come from 12 depot locations throughout western North Dakota which will sell water to companies in the oil and gas industry. Eight of the 12 depots will be running by the end of 2012. Locations include 2nd Street in Williston, North Williston, Indian Hill, the 13 Mile Corner, Alexander, R&T and Watford City.
Currently, contracts have been awarded for the Regional Transmission Lines to Watford City and Ray, as well as the Regional Pump Station and Reservoirs for Watford City and Ray.
“We know we need to get water to Watford City, Stanley, Ray and Tioga as quickly as possible,” says Zubke.
Phase II projects will focus on Ray, Tioga, Ambrose, Noonan, Fortuna, Columbus, Ross, Stanley, Williston, Watford City and rural water systems in McKenzie and Williams counties.
Providing reliable and potable water for municipal and rural residents and companies has the WAWSA working hard to get water lines, pump stations, reservoirs and fill depots constructed and running. Though Zubke and the WAWSA have no specified timeline for completing the WAWSP, there is a sense of urgency to keep up with area growth and stay abreast of the growth yet to come.