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Water in the Bakken Tour to educate locals of impact, growth

With the explosive growth of oil production in the Bakken oil patch came the inevitable increase in required resources and related challenges, and one of the most precious of all, water, created a unique problem: how to supply a booming industry and the 70,000 people that came with it.

Western Area Water Supply (WAWS), servicing a five-county area throughout the Bakken region, has been working to meet the increased demand, reports the Williston Herald. Recently, it increased its capacity by roughly 21 million gallons per day to service approximately 20,000 more people. The supply and demand challenge of WAWS continues to grow, along with the area’s population. It anticipates that by 2038, up to 160,000 people will need its water services.

Next Wednesday, September 9 at 8:30 a.m. in McKenzie County, WAWS will be featured during the Water in the Bakken Tour put on by the North Dakota Water Education Foundation. The tour will examine the role of the oil and gas industry in water use and water’s role in the fracking process. Jackie Nye, communications director for the foundation, told the Herald, “Water Education puts on a number of tours every summer to bring awareness of water issues that are important to everyone in the state. The best way for people to understand the impact is to see it first-hand.”

Attendees of the tour will visit and learn about the WAWS Watford City Water Depot as well as participate in an oil and gas exploration and production seminar at the LongX Visitor Center in Watford City. Later in the day, the tour will visit a drilling rig or hydraulic fracturing site and the OneOK Gas Plant. As reported by the Herald, Nye said, “I think a lot of people don’t realize how much water is involved in the fracking process and the day to day process of living. This is a good way to appreciate how much we use water.”

The tour costs $20 per person and includes meals, refreshments, transportation, informational materials and a one-year subscription to the North Dakota Water magazine. The Bakken Water Tour is the seventh of eight events this year. Other tours have focused on topics such as agriculture and regional flooding. To register, visit ndwater.com, call 701-223-8332 or email ndwaterusers@bitnet.net.

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