Residents, officials tour Southwest Water pipelineMore than 20 North Dakotans and water officials toured Marathon Oil Headquarters, Great Plains Synfuels Plant, the Dodge Water Depot, the Oliver Mercer North Dunn water treatment plant and tasted wine in Richardton on Tuesday as part of The North Dakota Water Education Foundation’s "The Thriving Prairie" water tour.
More than 20 North Dakotans and water officials toured Marathon Oil Headquarters, Great Plains Synfuels Plant, the Dodge Water Depot, the Oliver-Mercer-North Dunn water treatment plant and tasted wine in Richardton on Tuesday as part of The North Dakota Water Education Foundation’s ‘The Thriving Prairie’ water tour.
Southwest Water Authority Manager and CEO Mary Massad, along with Jean Schafer and Angela Magstadt of the North Dakota Water Education Foundation, explained the current water-related activities at each stop in southwestern North Dakota.
At the first stop, Marathon Oil Headquarters in Dickinson, Terry Kovacevich gave an industry overview, explained fracking and enlightened the group on the industry’s water supply needs.
“I found it all very fascinating,” Dickinson resident Joan Skabo said. “I live in oil country but never had the process explained so clearly before.”
After hearing about how water is used in fracking, the tour bus followed the Southwest Water pipeline route northeast to allow passengers to see a newly constructed water depot project in Dodge.
Massad said the depot is the place oil field water trucks pick up Southwest raw water to be used in the fracking process.
Zap was the next stop. It is the home of the future Oliver-Mercer-North Dunn Water Treatment Plant.
“We will soon be supplying water to these counties and are excited about the progress of summer construction,” Massad said.
Tour participant Bernard Falkenstein said he was amazed at the size of the treatment plant and adjacent water storage structures.
From Zap, participants were taken to the Dakota Gasification Plant in Beulah to see the water intake it shares with Antelope Valley Station and Southwest Water.
During the visit, the travelers also viewed an $8 million scale model of the plant and heard about the gasification process and byproducts it produces.
In Richardton, tour participants learned about how Sacred Heart Monastery uses both drinking and raw water from Southwest Water.
Sister Paula said Southwest Water Authority supplies all the water they use in day-to-day activities.
“We water our grounds, gardens and livestock with raw water and use the drinking water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and other daily activities in the monastery itself,” Sister Paula said.
Participants got to feed llamas and learn about the different crafts and goods the sisters make from their fur.
The tour concluded with a wine tasting at Assumption Abbey in Richardton.
“It was a great day to go site-seeing,” tour participant Lila Erickson said. “I found the tour very informative and am grateful that Southwest Water has brought much needed clean drinking water to the area.”