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Works begins on $30M Dickinson water reclamation facility

Dickinson and North Dakota officials celebrated the start of construction on a $30 million wastewater reclamation facility southeast of Dickinson on Wednesday, which is designed to serve a rapidly growing population.

Reclaimed water won't be drinking water quality but will be able to be used in irrigation, washing and in the oil field for fracking, said Karla Olson, representative of Apex Engineering Group, the Bismarck- and Fargo-based company serving as one of three engineers on the project.

"We can discharge to the Heart River with confidence knowing all regulations will be met," she said. "The goal, though, is not to discharge to the Heart River every day, but to reuse and reclaim that water."

The plant, which is scheduled to be complete in two years, will have the capacity to treat water from 35,000 residents, with the possibility of expansion or to run at half capacity, Olson said.

The current facility was built in 1950, with updates in 1974 and 1983, Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said. The age of the facility showed.

"All you had to do was live in Dickinson during the spring and when the lagoons turned over or we had a failure with some equipment, we would have some tremendous odor issues," he said.

This plant will be automated, with crews available during regular business hours, she said. It will be mechanical rather than a lagoon system and will consist of four buildings.

"Maybe it's hard to get excited about wastewater, but I am," Johnson said.

Crews began working on the site, about three miles east of Highway 22 along Eighth Street Southeast, about a week ago, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

The project is estimated to cost a little more than $30 million. The city, at the turn of the century, had planned to improve the 50-plus-year-old facility for $10 million to $11 million after an engineering study, Johnson said. The improvement would extend the life of the system for 20 years and serve 26,000 people.

"As the study progressed and the Bakken oil development's impact on Dickinson grew, the engineers became concerned the population was going to reach 26,000 people before we reached the 20-year life," he said.

Dickinson's population is estimated at 23,000, Kessel said.

The facility will not only service Dickinson, but other areas of Stark County, including South Heart, which plans to run a pipe the 15 miles between the two cities, Johnson said.

Energy impact grants will cover part of the cost of the project, he said. Because of the initial study, the city was ready to commit $10 million to $11 million to water reclamation.

About $8.4 million has already been granted from the state for the project, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley said.

In its preliminary 2013 budget, the city has the project planned for $35 million, with $11.4 million coming from oil impact grants. Part of the funding will come from the 2014 budget.

The $30 million breaks down to $5.5 million for concrete, $3.5 million for piping, $10 million in processing equipment, $4.5 million for electrical equipment and $2.5 million for heating, air conditioning and plumbing, Olson said. The remaining balance will cover the cost of piping water from the old facility.

The project is one of the first large-scale endeavors for the city to deal with energy impact, Kessel said.

Others speaking at the event were Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson and Gerry Fisher, deputy director of the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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