WILLISTON, N.D. — An expansion project at Williston’s water treatment plant is complete, enabling a regional water system to expand the number of people it can serve.
The plant is treating Missouri River water for the Western Area Water Supply Project, which hopes to serve 160,000 people by 2038 in the region that includes North Dakota’s bustling oil patch.
Williston’s water plant currently provides drinking water to about 70,000 people in 11 cities and rural areas of Burke, Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties. With the expansion from 14 million gallons of treated river water per day to 21 million gallons, it can now serve another 20,000 people, according to the Williston Herald.
“Without water, growth is impossible — housing developments cannot be built and new businesses cannot open,” said Jaret Wirtz, executive director of the water system.
The North Dakota Legislature has committed nearly $300 million to the water project since 2011.
“It’s a heck of a commitment from the state of North Dakota,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said during a celebration at the plant this week. “Anything short of this project would not have been adequate to keep up with the growth and industrial development.”
The Williston plant could treat only 10 million gallons of river water per day in 2011, when the water system was authorized, according to KXMC-TV.
“This is, without a doubt, the most significant development project this region has ever seen and will ever see,” said Gene Veeder, director of McKenzie County Development and a member of the water system board.
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