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Hearing to be held on rural water grant

JAMESTOWN -- A hearing on a House bill to grant nearly $10 million to Stutsman Rural Water District is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the North Dakota Capitol. If the bill passes, the grant would allow Stutsman Rural Water to proceed with an expansion planned for this summer.

"This is a $13.8 million project," said Geneva Kaiser, manager for Stutsman Rural Water. "This would be the grant and we borrow the rest from (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Rural Development."

The bill includes an emergency clause providing the money to Stutsman Rural Water almost immediately after the bill is signed. Kaiser said this would allow work to begin on the project in the spring. If the funding passes without the emergency clause, funding would not be available until August and construction would likely be delayed until 2014.

The project includes water service to Woodworth and about 750 rural families most in western Stutsman County.

Officials with Stutsman Rural Water are concerned the bill may be delayed by the ongoing territorial dispute between the city of Jamestown and Rural Water concerning who serves the area west of Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

"It has been more than a month since we negotiated," said Joel Lees, Rural Water board member. "Now we see why."

Kaiser said several legislators had contacted her after receiving calls from Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen on water issues.

"Right now I'm just talking with legislators about the impact it would have on negotiations," Andersen said.

She said she had not decided if she would testify at the hearing concerning the grant funding.

"It is a great project," Andersen said. "It will provide water to a lot of people that don't have good water now."

The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Roughrider Room in the North Dakota Capitol.