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No funding for Killdeer water line

The time to let the water flow through Killdeer is not right, officials said Friday at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck.

During its executive meeting, the North Dakota State Water Commission did not allocate funding to the Southwest Water Authority in Dickinson for a 44-mile transmission line, said Tim Freije, head of the Southwest Pipeline section.

"We will be reviewing the sequence and scheduling of construction," Freije said. "We are basically adapting our plans to basically best utilize the funding to benefit the citizens in the area."

Increased oil production in western North Dakota influenced the transmission line's construction. Authority Chairman Larry Bares wrote in a letter to the commission that the Killdeer area is seeing "enormous oil impacts," including a demand for water.

"Oil development will only increase in the Killdeer area, making the importance of getting adequate water to this area even greater for municipal, domestic and industrial purposes," he wrote.

Estimates for the project place it at $12 million, authority manager and CEO Mary Massad said. Building the transmission line would take two years, Bares wrote in the letter, which was to begin during the next construction season. Though the decision has set the project back, the commission recommended that the authority review the request for funding and apply again in 2012.

The line would begin at the Oliver Mercer North Dunn Water Treatment Plant and end about 2 miles northwest of Killdeer, Freije said.

Massad said it was her understanding that the authority would get the money for the project this biennium in order to get the project stared as soon as possible. People in rural areas have been waiting for water for more than 20 years, Bares wrote in the letter, and have been assured they will receive water this biennium. The added population has put more strain on water needs.

"The oil industry is affecting everything," Massad said. "We want to keep our project moving forward, and we have the commission's support for that."

Freije said certain events can set projects back, such as the special legislative session and flooding. Though he said the budget is as big as ever, the needs for water across the state are "in excess of our ability to fund everything."

"We will get to the transmission line at the most appropriate and logical time," Freije said. "Everything is basically a moving target."

Massad said she understood why the commission is waiting to commit to funding the project, adding the commission and authority need to be responsible for the money they spend.

"It's expensive to build a pipeline," she said. "Somebody always has to be first, and somebody always has to be last."