Water worries: Dickinson farmer concerned about semis at pumping stationThe Southwest Water Authority wants to assure residents they will come before commercial use, but a Dickinson resident said the authority is not keeping its promise.
The Southwest Water Authority wants to assure residents they will come before commercial use, but a Dickinson resident said the authority is not keeping its promise.
“This water is for human consumption and animals, not for the oil field,” Dickinson farmer John Decker said. “What are they going to do when they pump us dry?”
Decker lives less than a mile west of an SWA water depot on Highway 10 east of Dickinson, adding his family has lived there since 1896.
The SWA water depot accesses the raw water line, and the trucks that haul water away don’t use water available to residents, said Tim Freije, Southwest Water Pipeline project manager in Bismarck.
It doesn’t provide drinking water, SWA manager and CEO Mary Massad added, but a portion of the water must be available for public access, according to the policy.
The SWA Board adopted a policy in early June that states “domestic water supply has priority over industrial water supply in times of shortage.” The State Water Commission in Bismarck also passed the cost-share policy June 13.
Decker pumps water from underground wells, stating he can’t hook up to SWA water. He asked why there is a water depot providing water to commercial trucks when people can’t hook up to SWA.
“I’m just tired of getting bent over for this oil and having to pay for more,” he said.
Approximately 170 people are on the waiting list for water in the 12-county area SWA serves, Massad said. She added the areas the SWA covers are not in a shortage.
“We are dealing with issues as far as capacity,” she said, adding they can provide water to their customers. “We need to protect our existing customers that they have adequate pressure.”
Getting water to the west and east of Dickinson has been difficult due to the layout of the system, Decker added.
“At some point in time, we are going to need more treatment capacity in Dickinson,” he said. “In order to utilize that, we are going to need more raw water transmission capacity.”
Noise and dust from the depot also present issues, Decker said. The dust spreads on his crops and into his yard, and jake brakes from semis have also woken Decker in the middle of the night, he said.
“(Massad) sleeps at night. I can’t,” he said.