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Watford City, North Dakota. Looking west on Route 85. Temporary housing and road constructed for oil and gas workers. (Image: National Parks Conservation Association via Flickr)

Watford City population six times higher than pre-boom

Watford City was once a sleepy town with a humble population of about 1,500 people. That was before the oil boom, though, which has sent the population rocketing upwards six times over, with continued growth predicted.

McKenzie County Job Development Authority Director Gene Veeder said, “We’re coming on more stable times, and our trend in growth is still upward. Our numbers are still real strong here. People are waiting to see those numbers change, and they haven’t,” reports The McKenzie County Farmer.

Prior to the boom, Watford City sat atop 882 acres of land. In the years since 2010, the city has annexed and expanded its territory to cover about 5,459 acres. Additionally, over 20 developments have finished the planning and zoning process, accounting for more than 2,800 acres.

Related: Watford City barrels through downturn in oil economy

Veeder told The Farmer, “It’s pretty evident that looking at all of the oil producing counties, McKenzie County doubles the closest county in terms of gross oil production. Oil production will be quite strong in the county, even at $20 to $30 a barrel. These numbers will be above 350,000 barrels of oil a day. You’ll see some depletion, but still pretty strong.”

Although Watford City has not witnessed the same drop in rental prices as other areas in the oil patch, the city continues its efforts to attract families and a permanent workforce. Such projects include the construction of an $83 million event center, a new hospital, new schools and a regional law enforcement center. Last June residents voted to increase the city sales tax to generate funding for Watford City’s continued expansion.

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