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Southwest Water Authority requests $93M

The Southwest Water Authority has formally requested $93 million to build more pipelines, increase water treatment capacity in Dickinson and create reservoirs.

In late April, Southwest Water Authority CEO Mary Massad asked for money from the North Dakota State Water Commission and Resources Trust Fund. The authority supplies water to more than 56,000 people in communities, farms and companies in southwest North Dakota as well as South Dakota’s Perkins County.

The request includes $13 million to complete construction in Oliver, Mercer and northern Dunn counties in 2014.

“It would have been foolish to wait until the next (year) when the contractor is doing the project now,” Mike Dwyer, water authority legal counsel, said at a board meeting Monday.

Because of population growth, the authority will use the remaining $80 million in 2015 through 2017 to build pipelines in Dickinson, from Zap to Richardton and from Richardton to Dickinson. Second reservoirs will be established in Dickinson, Belfield, Richardton and near Davis Buttes northeast of Dickinson.

The Dickinson water treatment plant’s capacity will be increased by six million gallons per day, pending funding.

“As population increases and demand increases, trying to meet the need is challenging,” Massad said.

Board members talked with Lance Yohe and Ryan Norrell about forming a new group that will focus on keeping Missouri River water from North Dakota in the state.

Norrell, a lawyer for the North Dakota Public Service Commission, said formerly reliable water sources like the Colorado River are drying up.

“People are looking for other places for water,” Norrell said. “We want North Dakota’s interests to be preserved.”

The group hopes to hold a gathering for state water stakeholders in the fall and establish a legislative presence in Bismarck and Washington, D.C., next year, Yohe said.

Authority board members expressed interest in supporting the group. Duane Bueligen, a board member from New Salem, called it a “better approach” to water issues that would unify a state that often fights internally over its resources.

The authority has also sent minor contract amendments to cities and other customers it serves.

One amendment requires cities, including Dickinson, to install real-time measurement monitors at water depots that service the oil or gas industry at their own expense. The monitors must be installed by the end of 2014, according to new requirements from the Office of the State Engineer.

Board members agreed to give Massad a merit-based raise between 3.5 and 5 percent, which will be discussed in further detail at its June meeting. Massad currently makes $150,675, above the nationwide average of $134,000 for those in a similar position, said board member Steve Schneider of Dickinson.