October 19, 2011

Work begins to extend city’s water and sewer service

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Early in the year it became evident to Watford City leaders and residents that the oil and gas industry was impacting the area in a major way, and that something needed to be done about it.
The state of North Dakota’s promise of impact grants offered hope, and in July of this year, Watford City was awarded $12.3 million in grants to allow for the expansion of city water and sewer service into newly annexed areas of the city to provide for new residential and commercial growth.
City leaders set plans in motion to fortify Watford City for the influx it was projected to receive. But no one imagined the city would already reach that growth point before the work even started.
In July Curt Moen, Watford City city planner, said the city’s plans for the impact grant were to meet the city’s projected population of 5,000 people. However, Watford City has already grown past that.
“We guestimate that according to utility usage numbers, the city services a population of around 6,500,” states Moen.
“With the impact grant money, we came up with a comprehensive growth plan where we defined the areas we want to push infrastructure into to help Watford City grow and develop,” states Moen. “With that population changing, that plan is constantly in flux.”
In fact, one of the major changes to the original plan has to do with Watford City’s current sewer capacity.
Accoring to Moen, by Dec. 15, Watford City plans to run water and sewer service to the west side of town to the far west corner of Greg’s Welding property. Then, by May 15, Watford City plans to run water and sewer to the south of town, along U.S. Highway 85 to 11th Avenue.
Once those two phases are complete, Moen states that the city will then connect to the lines running west of town and loop a line north of town to the water tower.
“Watford City’s main sewer lift station is running at 70 percent capacity,” Moen reports. “At this point it can take it, but we need to relieve some pressure before it can’t.”
According to Moen, most sewer lines in town flow to that main lift station, which then pumps the sewage out to the lagoons. Once everyone who is supposed to annex into the city limits from the north and west ties into city water and sewer, it will be almost maxed out.
“By looping this line from the west to the north, it will relieve some pressure from that main lift station, allowing the city to be able to handle a population of around 7,500,” states Moen.
Then Watford City, according to Moen, will expand the sewer lagoons, making them large enough to accommodate the city’s projected growth, and it will add more aeration ponds to help control the odor.
Some further plans include water and sewer lines to the east of town, at least to the golf course, and again to the south, past 11th Avenue to the substation.