Small Towns Deal With Water System Issues

Whether you live in a city or the most rural part of the state, you need a dependable water supply.
And in the state’s small towns, that can be an expensive proposition.
Jim Olson reports on one local town’s tough choices for keeping the water flowing.

Benedict, North Dakota is a pretty little town. The kind of place where Main Street is a gravel road that ends in a farm field. Where there are few businesses – and few residents.

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “We have about 75 people that live here.”

The kind of place where it’s a short walk from the heart of town to the town’s main piece of infrastructure – the water well and pump station.

The small building holds equipment that feeds water to 42 connections around town. But the pipes that deliver that water are failing.

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “All the pipes in the ground are asbestos concrete pipes and they are rigid.

Tebby says there have been eight water line breaks in the past two years.

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “It’s been consistent so that’s telling us we need to replace our infrastructure.”

But that’s spendy

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “A one-point-five million dollar project…”

That conundrum brought her to the state capitol this week and her testimony to the Water Topics Committee.

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “We just don’t have the funding.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) “The mayor’s appearance at the legislative committee was to represent all towns of under 250 people in North Dakota but she used her town of Benedict to describe the problems that they’re facing.”

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “The rates are going to have to go up because breaking even isn’t cutting it.”

Tebby says residents will soon have some choices: Figure out a way to pay for the 1.5 million dollar project through rate increases and grant money, have each user hooked up to the rural water system, or maybe something else that a feasibility study might identify.

(Becky Tebby, Benedict Mayor) “We’ll call another community meeting and explain everything and let them make the decision of how they want to town to go.”

She expects some choices to be available to Benedict residents later this year. Jim Olson, KX News.>>

The $30,000 cost of Benedict’s feasibility study is being covered by the USDA’s Rural Development program.

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