Water Project Plans $50 Million Request to Legislature

The 66th session of the North Dakota Legislature begins in barely more than a week.
And many agencies and groups are gearing up to make their case for state funding for the next biennium.
That includes the state’s most unique water project.
Jim Olson talks with the new leader of the Western Area Water Supply about what WAWS hopes to accomplish in the next two years.

The new director of WAWS comes from Texas – where things are big. But he knows he’s latched onto something pretty big right here in North Dakota.

(Curtis Wilson, WAWS Executive Director) “WAWS is a project that’s a very big challenge.”

Curtis Wilson began the job as the second-ever director of WAWS in September. Since then, he’s been getting up to speed – and getting ready to ask the state legislature for a big chunk of money to keep the water project expanding.

(Curtis Wilson, WAWS Executive Director) ” It seems to be that that is a doable deal given what we’re asked to do in the Bakken.”

Wilson says the plan is to keep bringing Missouri River water from the Williston water treatment plant to more people in western North Dakota.

(Curtis Wilson, WAWS Executive Director) “We have about 60,000 to 80,000 population that we serve right now.”

WAWS has reached that level of service with about $345 million in state funds – but what makes WAWS unique is the plan to pay back much of that money through the sale of water to the oil industry. And Wilson says those sales are doing well as 2018 ends.

(Curtis Wilson, WAWS Executive Director) “Receipts are a lot higher than what they were projected to be.” 3010 “That’s a good healthy sign hat we’re going forward like we’re supposed to be.”

Wilson understands that getting another $50 million from the state won’t be automatic – but he thinks it’s a reasonable request to keep reaching out to people waiting for good quality water.

(Curtis Wilson, WAWS Executive Director) “My impression is what goes into the legislature right now may not be anything like what might come out, so we’re ready for anything.”

Jim Olson, KX News.

WAWS began in 2012 and has installed about two thousand miles of pipe to deliver water to more than 60,000 people in western North Dakota.
 

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