Governor Dalrymple Signs SB 2020 with $60M included for WAWSA

(May 15, 2015)  The Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWSA) is revising its construction plan for the next two years after the legislature included $60 million for WAWSA in the State Water Commission budget, Senate Bill 2020 (SB 2020).  Governor Jack Dalrymple signed SB 2020 on May 12.  WAWSA went into the legislative session with a request for $120 million for the 2015-2017 biennium, to complete multiple rural projects.  “We are receiving $60 million, which is 50 percent of our original request.  We understand that budget cuts had to be made.  Despite this temporary financial hurdle, WAWSA is grateful that legislators and Governor Jack Dalrymple continue to support this necessary public water project for the northwestern part of the State,” says Jaret Wirtz, WAWSA Executive Director.

SB 2020 includes $30 million for WAWSA from the State’s $130 million rural water budget and $30 million from the State’s $85 million municipal water projects budget.  “We’re identifying the projects that we can complete with the $60 million WAWSA is slated to receive through 2017.  There are many high priority projects that we need to make progress on, in order to provide water to rural residents who have been waiting for WAWSA service,” says Wirtz.  WAWSA had intended to use the $120 million that was requested to pay for rural water distribution, transmission, and water treatment projects in the service areas of Burke-Divide-Williams Rural Water, McKenzie County Water Resource District, R&T Water Supply Commerce Authority, and Williams Rural Water District. 


The total cost of the Western Area Water Supply Project is estimated to be $469 million.  The costs associated with building the project continue to increase due to the unprecedented number of requests for WAWSA service.  Nearly 18,000 requests have been logged since 2010.  Inflation and a tight construction market in the Bakken region have also contributed to increased costs.  WAWSA has received approval for $289 million from the State since 2010, including the $60 million from SB 2020. 



The Cities of Williston, Watford City, Ray, Tioga, Stanley, Wildrose, Crosby, Fortuna, Noonan, Columbus, and Ross currently receive WAWSA service.  The population of the Western Area Water Supply Project’s service area is forecast to reach 160,000 people by the year 2038, according to a 2014 study completed by the North Dakota State University Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.