While the Western Area Water Supply project races forward, progress on another major water system in the region has been stalled.
There will be no new construction projects on the Northwest Area Water Supply project in the coming months while officials wait for a critical ruling from a federal judge.
NAWS has been challenged by groups in Canada and a federal judge issued an injunction in 2005 to stop NAWS from treating Missouri River water for the project.
Since then, construction on other parts of NAWS has continued and several communities are hooked up to NAWS - although the water they're receiving is coming from the Minot water treatment plant.
The judge in the case held a conference call with the parties of the litigation last month, expressing concern about the on-going construction and the State Water Commission has decided to delay bidding on new projects until the judge rules on that issue - probably in late February.
Tim Freije fridge- of the State Water Commission is the project manager for NAWS.
He told members of the commission that in addition to the legal question, there's not enough water to hook up any more customers.
(Tim Freije, ND State Water Commission) "We don't intend to do any more construction until we have a new source of water identified and approved. I'd like to get pipelines out to more customers but as things stand right now we don't have the water to serve them so our intention is to do the design work, have it basically ready to go, and then when we have a new water source or greater water supply identified we'll be able to move forward."
If there's not a favorable ruling regarding construction, this would become the first year since NAWS construction began more than a decade ago that no major work is done.
Meanwhile, the larger question of the lawsuit against NAWS continues unanswered.
A new environmental impact statement is due to be finished in the spring and finalized in the fall.
After that, the judge in the case is expected to make her ruling about exactly where water for the project should come from and, if it's ruled that the water for NAWS should come from the Missouri River, what treatment will be required.
So far, about 107 million dollars has been spent on NAWS.