A nearly half a million dollar water project being done in Benedict has caused a few hiccups along the way — and despite the many benefits behind the project, a few residents aren’t too happy.
“I came in shortly after North Prairie began providing us with water,” Lisa Tomlinson said.
Things have been normal for Tomlinson as far as water supply to her home goes.
“Talk really just started maybe two years ago, a year and a half ago,” Tomlinson said.
The talk she’s referring to is city officials wanting to replace the current water lines with new ones.
She said, “They were told, which is what I was told at the meetings, is that our current water system pipes are so old and fragile and that’s why we kept having water breaks.”
So, to fix the issue, North Prairie Rural Water Association was asked to step in.
“The City of Benedict was a bulk user of North Prairie and they were having some infrastructure problems and they don’t have the population to support putting in new infrastructure,” North Prairie Rural Water Association General Manager Teresa Sundsbak said.
North Prairie was given a grant by the state allowing them to complete the project and turn each resident into an individual user.
Doing this allows users 24/7 water repairs and services — something they don’t have access to now.
“For instance the City of Minot, they have a Public Works Department. Well, the smaller cities do not have the funding to pay for a public works person,” Sundsbak said.
While officials say the benefits stack up, residents like Tomlinson feel sideswiped.
“We were not given more of a say so in whether or not we wanted this or not,” Tomlinson said.
Being an individual user means residents now have to pay 25% of services done to install the pipelines in their yards.
Tomlinson says that’s not as easy as it sounds.
“I just know that there are people that are really having a hard time with this,” she said.
But that’s not the only issue. North Prairie has been hitting old water line after old water line.
“Back in the day when the infrastructure was put in the ground there wasn’t GPS and so those lines weren’t GPS’d and so it’s on a guess as to exactly where they run,” Sundsbak said.
Due to health concerns, Sundsbak says this forces them to shut the water off and leaving people without water for days.
For residents like Tomlinson, this just adds fuel to the fire.
“When you feel forced into something and you don’t have a choice, I don’t know if it’s natural or not, but it raises trust issues,” Tomlinson said.
Sunsbak says the project should be complete by this Friday and the water will be tested to be sure it’s safe for use.