The seventh year of construction is ready to go for a major water project in western North Dakota.
The Western Area Water Supply project already boasts over 70,000 customers and is on track to add many thousands more in the coming decade.
Jim Olson reports on the continued growth of WAWS, and what the agency is doing to avoid conflicts with landowners where pipes have been buried.
Shane Hodenfield is moving seed into place to be ready in case spring ever arrives. He farms north of Ray and has lots of experience with pipelines on his property.
(Shane Hodenfield, Ray Area Farmer) “It’s kind of a learning process.”
The learning has involved oil and gas pipelines where the finished product for him working on top of the land wasn’t too good.
(Shane Hodenfield, Ray Area Farmer) “The process they went through was not very good. I’ve got a few miles of land that’s non-productive. I’m going to have to take it out of what I’ve been trying to do and maybe see some alfalfa or cover crops and see what I can do with it.”
So he was wary when Western Area Water Supply came with plans for another pipeline. But he says he worked closely with WAWS officials – and the contractors putting in the pipe – to make sure he’d be happy with the result.
(Shane Hodenfield, Ray Area Farmer) “It was really nice to get.”
(Chris Barke, Western Area Water Supply Reclamation) “We don’t want to leave them hanging.”
It’s Chris Barke’s job to make sure that landowners with WAWS pipelines crossing them are satisfied.
(Chris Barke, Western Area Water Supply Reclamation) “There’s always going to be settling with any pipeline. It’s a common thing. Best of my ability I go in and try and make it right.”
(Jaret Wirtz, Western Area Water Supply Executive Director) “It’s a very big priority for us to make sure we’re leaving the land as good as it was.”
(Chris Barke, Western Area Water Supply Reclamation) “Most of us that work here are from the area so the last thing we want to do is leave a landowner high and dry.”
It’s a mission Shane Hodenfield says was accomplished. Now he’s just hoping spring will show up soon so he can get to farming.
Jim Olson, KX News.
WAWS plans to install more than 200 miles of pipe during the coming construction season.