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Rural water system project slowed by funding shortage

MINOT, N.D. — A project to upgrade rural water systems in western North Dakota will go at a slower pace than anticipated over the next two years due to less state funding, a project leader said this week.

The State Water Commission this week voted to allow an extra $30 million to the Western Area Water Supply project, but that boost comes after project officials received only half of the $120 million they requested from legislators this year, KXMC-TV reported.

The Legislature appropriated $60 million to the project this session in response to expected reductions in oil tax receipts, a move Executive Director Jaret Wirtz said will slow work but is understandable.

“It delays a lot of the projects we wanted to get done,” he said. “The water need continues to be there, it’s just what we can serve with the dollars we have and we’ll have to utilize those the best we can.”

The water system is designed to serve five counties: Burke, Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams. The project will use an expanded water treatment plant in Williston and is already providing municipal and rural water to many area cities, including Watford City, Ray, Tioga, Stanley and Crosby.

Wirtz said even with the funding cut, it will still be a busy construction season for them, thanks in part to the vote for additional funding from the water commission, which will fund projects that have already been bid to move ahead.

“It’s a way to help us move forward in a much faster fashion so we can get these projects done and we don’t lose a construction year.”

In all, the project is expected to cost $469 million and serve an estimated 160,000 people by 2038.

In related news, Farmers worry over reach of EPA water rules.

Information from: KXMC-TV, http://www.kxnet.com

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.