The North Dakota Water Coalition is asking state legislators to pump another 79 million dollars into the Western Area Water Supply Project.
WAWS was originally funded by the 2011 legislature with a 110 million dollar loan...money to be paid back through revenue raised by selling water for use in the oil industry.
The plan called for another 40 million dollars in loans this year.
But, as Jim Olson reports, officials say the need for water has grown even in the past two years, so more money will be needed.
These halls could be a home away from home for officials of the Western Area Water Supply Project early next year. They're likely to be spending lots of time talking with legislators about the future of WAWS.
(Jaret Wirtz, WAWS Executive Director) "We're going down there to request some more funding."
WAWS Executive Director Jaret Wirtz says WAWS officials are seeking the remainder of the 150 million dollars in loans - the group got 110 million dollars two years ago. But they're also asking for another 80 million dollars in grant money to allow WAWS to grow beyond its original scope.
(Jaret Wirtz, WAWS Executive Director) "At one time in 2010 when we brought the original business plan to the legislature it looked like we were going to serve around 40,000. With the newest housing study the state has put out, it looks like the service area of WAWS could be as much as 80 to 90,000."
Wirtz says there are huge new subdivisions in places like Watford City, Ray, and Stanley that need water. And rural areas of western North Dakota are also growing. He says the original business model that was approved by legislators in 2011 is still valid - but it's not going to be enough.
(Jaret Wirtz, WAWS Executive Director) "In the business plan we had a model set up to pay back about $150 million and we still think we can do that but as we move forward we're going to need a little more grant money as this project becomes bigger."
That's why the group - with the backing of dozens of members of the North Dakota Water Coalition - will be spending time in Bismarck next year, hoping lawmakers agree that there's an even larger need for water than when they put together the plan two years ago. That plan calls for WAWS to sell water to the oil industry and use the profits to repay the loan. He says construction of the WAWS water depots is a bit behind schedule, but there is a need for the water, even with the many private water sellers in the business.
(Jaret Wirtz, WAWS Executive Director) "We're seeing a huge amount of requests for water, especially in McKenzie County...oil companies, water haulers, calling a lot to try and get water."
Wirtz says he's hopeful that legislators will share the opinion that WAWS has been good and can be even better.
(Jaret Wirtz, WAWS Executive Director) "By the time we get to the legislature we should be able to come down there with quite a good success story with all the communities we've hooked on and all the rural residents."
In Williston, Jim Olson, KX News.
The Western Area Water Supply Project expects to deliver water to Crosby and Watford City by mid-month, and to Stanley, Ray, and Tioga early next year.