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Watford City Development

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The Bakken-fueled oil boom has changed life in many towns - large and small - in western North Dakota.
Over the next several weeks we'll be focusing on several of those towns - featuring one community per week.
This week, we'll look at the changes happening in Watford City.
Here's Jordan Pederson.

Big trucks and piles of dirt...
Watford City is dealing with the oil surge and a huge construction phase.  
(Gene Veeder, Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "The priority projects right now are getting water and sewer expanded out into our city limits."
Right now Watford City's water and sewer expansion project will not accommodate the number of people in town..
(Gene Veeder, Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "I think we projected our water and sewer expansion project to deal with about 3,000 people. Well, we are at about 5,000 now and we haven't even started the project. It is hard to get a handle on this thing."
but how fast can Watford city accommodate the swelling population?
(Gene Veeder,  Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "I'm not sure that we can build to accommodate everybody who is here right now. You know, you deal with what is in front of you and prepare yourself."
The city has prepared --starting with housing.
(Gene Veeder,  Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "When you look at this, this is a map of projects that have been approved this year. We are delivering infrastructure to all of these housing developments. Each one of them looks something like this. We think by the end of 2012 we will have a substantial number of units available for, for the public. Not enough to need the need for sure."
Other projects include expanding highway 85 into a four lane, completing a water system from Williston to Watford City, and building a new middle school.
But at what point does the city overbuild?
And just how many people will stay after the resources have been exhausted?
(Gene Veeder,  Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "Our plan is to try and confine it in an area we can serve it. We know that, that a lot of this is a construction phase. So we are tending to plan for keeping about between 20 to 30 percent of these people."
The times, they are a changing.. and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
(Gene Veeder,  Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "So there is a mixture of opinions out there. Some people just want it to go away. A lot of people see it as opportunity."
As with any opportunity comes a chance to prosper.
Veeder believes Watford City will settle into a solid community with quality life choices - only if the community isn't flagged by debt.
(Gene Veeder,  Executive Director, McKenzie County Job Development) "It is about paying this stuff up front so we don't have a lot of debt five years down the line. We are just trying to make a community that is attractive for longer term residents to live."
In Watford City, Jordan Pederson, KX News.

Tomorrow we'll look at a small town business and how it is handling the influx of people to the Watford City area.

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