May 11, 2011


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

For some people in western North Dakota, it probably was no big deal when the North Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1206 creating the Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWS) and authorized $110 million in state funding to construct the pipeline network that will bring high quality water to this part of the state. After all, water is one of those things that far too many people take for granted. You open the faucet in your home or business and water comes out. It’s pretty simple.
But they are very wrong in saying that the creation of WAWS is not a big deal. It is a huge deal! Let me say that again, WAWS is a huge deal for western North Dakota.
Water is one of the things that everyone wants and expects to have whenever they need it. But quality water in western North Dakota is a very precious resource and something that most of us don’t have.
People living in most rural areas of western North Dakota sure don’t have it, and that is why they are hauling water to their homes or they are getting hooked up to a rural water system. But the trouble with most of our rural water systems is that these systems are getting their water supply from a municipal system, such as Watford City’s. And no one is going to say that Watford City’s water is all that great.
The one resource that every community needs to help spur economic growth is good, clean water and lots of it.
And that reliable source of quality water is just what WAWS is going to bring to all of McKenzie County and throughout western  North Dakota.
Within the next two years because of the positive support from legislators from across the state, water from the WAWS will be flowing from the Williston Treatment Plant, which will treat Missouri River water, and then pumped into pipelines that will deliver this resource to cities such as Williston, Watford City, Ray, Tioga, Stanley, Crosby, Grenora and Wildrose, and to rural residents in McKenzie, Williams, Mountrail, Burke and Divide counties.
WAWS will not only be delivering water to the residents of these areas, but it will also be delivering a much higher quality water source to the oil industry that needs the water in their drilling operations. And the best part of bringing water to the oil industry is that the energy sector will bear a great share of paying for the cost of building the new system.
It will be a win-win situation for everyone in western North Dakota. The people of western North Dakota need quality water now for its residents today and into the future. And the oil industry needs the water to meet their long-range drilling programs, which in turn spurs even more economic growth throughout the region.
Western North Dakota was the recipient of tremendous state assistance during this legislative session with record funds being provided to maintain and improve our state, county and township roads because of the increased oil traffic, as well as state assistance to help communities in the oil-impacted counties improve their water and sewer infrastructure systems to meet growing populations.
And now with $110 million to put the WAWS system into place, western North Dakota is truly poised to be able to meet the needs of its citizens today and well into the future.