Completion of NAWS finally on the horizon

One of the most important projects in our City’s history is the Northwest Area Water Supply project. The State Water Commission began construction on NAWS in April 2002.

Minot has long been a regional leader on water issues, and a key element of NAWS’ success is the City’s commitment to the completion and implementation of the NAWS system. That’s why we were very happy when the District of Columbia District Court ruled in August 2017 in favor of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the State of North Dakota, allowing construction to move forward. As part of the ruling, a biota treatment facility must be built near Max to treat the raw water that is drawn from Lake Sakakawea. That water will then move through the pipeline to Minot, where it will be fully treated and dispersed throughout the NAWS network. The facility near Max is currently in the design phase; it’s estimated the design will be complete in 2020 and the project will then be ready for bid.

Through much of the legal battle, treated water from Minot’s Water Treatment plant has been delivered to Berthold, Kenmare, Burlington, West River Water District, Upper Souris Water District, Mohall, Sherwood, All Seasons Water District, North Prairie Water District, and Minot Air Force Base through a contract with the City of Minot.

As necessitated by the NAWS project, a $27 million expansion of the Minot Water Treatment plant is under way. When completed, the expansion will increase the daily capacity of the plant to 18 million gallons to meet the growing demands of Minot and the communities served by NAWS. Minot’s plant currently treats between 13 million and 14 million gallons of water per day during peak days. The Minot treatment plant will then be limited only by its raw water capacity. Minot can currently pull approximately 16 million gallons a day from the Sundre and Minot aquifers, so accessing the water from the lake via NAWS is crucial not only for drinking water but also any future manufacturing industry growth. The expansion is expected to be operational late this year, and serves notice that Minot continues to be fully committed to its role as a regional water supplier.

NAWS has been funded by a variety of local, state, and federal sources since its inception. It’s also had a significant impact on City budgets through the years. In 2011, Minot voters decided to reallocate sales tax funds collected for NAWS to property tax relief and community facilities. In 2018, Minot’s City Council restored those collections to NAWS to help provide the $4 million needed annually to complete the project. Reallocating those funds to NAWS required a shift of some costs back to property taxes, leading to the increase in 2019.

Through it all, NAWS supporters have kept their focus on the completion of the project. That focus is now paying off. There’s a long way to go before water from Lake Sakakawea is treated, blended with Minot water and distributed to communities through the NAWS network, but after years of waiting, the completion of this project is clearly visible on our horizon.

Sincerely, City Hall.

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