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Traill Rural Water wins lawsuit in 99-year lease, Water district must pay $30,900 to landowners, rent cut by more than $9K per year

CLIFFORD -- The Traill Rural Water District has won a lawsuit in a dispute of a 99-year land lease. Daniel and Marlene Motter, Hope, N.D., had filed the lawsuit in Steele County seeking nearly $1 million from the district. The land, located in St...

CLIFFORD -- The Traill Rural Water District has won a lawsuit in a dispute of a 99-year land lease.

Daniel and Marlene Motter, Hope, N.D., had filed the lawsuit in Steele County seeking nearly $1 million from the district. The land, located in Steele County, is the site of two well fields, each containing four water wells that the water district uses to obtain water for its rural water system.

East Central Judicial District Judge Douglas Herman this month ordered the water district to pay $30,900 for 2011 through 2013. Beginning with 2014, the rent would be $1,000 annually -- the original amount -- for the remainder of the 99-year lease.

"That will save the district about $870,000 over the 99 years," Traill Rural Water Manager Neil Breidenbach said.

It amounts to a savings of more than $9,000 annually over the remaining years of the contract. Breidenbach said that could help prevent a potential water rate increase for Traill County water users.

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The original contract had been negotiated in 2006 between Melba Motter, who since has died, and a former water district manager. The lease later was revised, increasing the payment from $1,000 per year to $10,300, according to court documents.

Those documents indicate neither the present board of directors nor the previous board had knowledge of the revised lease until 2014, when the district received a bill from the landowners for $31,300, the landowners claiming the district had not paid the bill in 2011, 2012 or 2013.

Traill Rural Water, based in Clifford, N.D., has about 670 rural customers in southern Traill County. It also sells bulk untreated water to the North Dakota cities of Mayville and Hillsboro and then buys back the treated water. It also sells bulk water to the North Dakota cities of Grandin, Portland and Galesburg.

Related Topics: STEELE COUNTY
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