The Writing is on the wall

Water Treatment Plant project finishes; NAWS may proceed

Eloise Ogden/MDN
Sen. John Hoeven, left, and Congressman Kevin Cramer read a plaque on the floodwall east of the Minot Water Treatment Plant Friday. A ceremony was held to dedicate the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-Water Treatment Plant flood protection project. The finished project features the first floodwalls built in the Minot community.

Eloise Ogden/MDN Sen. John Hoeven, left, and Congressman Kevin Cramer read a plaque on the floodwall east of the Minot Water Treatment Plant Friday. A ceremony was held to dedicate the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-Water Treatment Plant flood protection project. The finished project features the first floodwalls built in the Minot community.

Friday’s dedication for the completion of the first floodwalls built in Minot turned into a two-fold celebration.

Sen. John Hoeven announced at the ceremony Friday morning that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the Northwest Area Water Supply project, better known as NAWS, may proceed.

“We just got approved by federal court in DC for NAWS,” Hoeven told those attending the Minot ceremony.

“That water is going to come from Lake Sakakawea and go through the water treatment plant,” Hoeven said. He said the water will serve more than 100,000 North Dakotans.

“We’ve been fighting this battle for 15 years. We never stopped building NAWS, we didn’t lose time on the project. Today we prevailed on the project,” Hoeven said.

Eloise Ogden/MDN
The flood protection project completed at the Minot Water Treatment Plant has concrete walls spanning 1,720 linear feet on the south side of the Souris River.

Eloise Ogden/MDN The flood protection project completed at the Minot Water Treatment Plant has concrete walls spanning 1,720 linear feet on the south side of the Souris River.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Bureau of Reclamation’s Environmental Impact Study for the NAWS project fulfilled the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act. Accordingly, the court has dismissed the lawsuits brought against the project, lifted the injunction and allowed the project to proceed, according to a news release from Hoeven’s office.

The NAWS project will be funded with federal, state and local dollars provided by the communities that will use the water. Reclamation’s preferred alternative recognizes the need for the system to provide up to 26 million gallons of Missouri River water per day to more than 100,000 residents of North Dakota. The system is designed to provide service through 2060.

“This is a big deal today that just got bigger,” Hoeven said, referring to both the NAWS federal court decision and the ribbon-cutting event for the flood protection project completed at the Minot Water Treatment Plant.

Officials from all levels of government – city, state and federal – were on hand Friday morning to cut the ribbon to dedicate the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-Water Treatment Plant flood protection project.

The ceremony marked the end of a two-year construction project that now protects the treatment plant from future floods similar to that experienced in Minot when the Souris River flooded in 2011.

Eloise Ogden/MDN
Eloise Ogden/MDN
This photo shows the Minot Water Treatment Plant in southwest Minot. Earthen levees, new lift stations and the adjustment of intake structures at the treatment plant are part of the finished Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-Water Treatment Plant flood protection project.

Eloise Ogden/MDN Eloise Ogden/MDN This photo shows the Minot Water Treatment Plant in southwest Minot. Earthen levees, new lift stations and the adjustment of intake structures at the treatment plant are part of the finished Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-Water Treatment Plant flood protection project.

The $30 million flood protection project for Minot was a collaboration between local, state and federal partners. The cost share for the project was supported by 75 percent funding (22.5 million) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) budget, 15 percent funding ($4.5 million) from the City of Minot and 10 percent funding ($3 million) from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services budget, according to information about the project.

The finished project features the first floodwalls built in Minot. Concrete walls span 1,720 linear feet on the south side of the Souris River. The floodwalls tie into two new temporary roadway closure structures at 16th Street SW and Water Treatment Plant Road (12th Street SW). Earthen levees, new lift stations and the adjustment of intake structures at the treatment plant are also part of the finished project. Houston Engineering designed the project and Wagner Construction was the general contractor in charge of construction.

Congressman Kevin Cramer said the successes being celebrated are a small part of a a larger project that has to do with the community itself, referring to the commitment of the community. He said he and Hoeven have learned in Congress that not every place in America is like Minot, like North Dakota.

Ryan Pietramali, FEMA Region VIII Risk Analysis branch chief from Denver, said it takes a commitment at all levels to make these projects succeed. He said the Minot project is FEMA’s largest single Hazard Mitigation Grant Program project it has ever funded in Region VIII.

It is also the second largest floodwall ever funded with HMGP grant money by FEMA, next to New York City where a floodwall was built for $40.6 million with federal share of $30.4 million after Hurricane Sandy at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, according to Pietramali and Jerry DeFelice, FEMA external affairs specialist for Region VIII in Denver.

Eloise Ogden/MDN

Eloise Ogden/MDN

Cody Schulz, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services Disaster Recovery chief from Bismarck, said when he thinks about the Minot project and Minot since the 2011 flood, the words “resilience” and “wisdom” come to mind. “This city is going to be even stronger,” he said.

Minot Mayor Chuck Barney read a letter of congratulations to Minot for the project from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

“This is a historic day for the city of Minot,” said Barney in his remarks.

Millions of gallons of water go through the Minot Water Treatment plant for use in the city and region.

“To lose that would be devastating,” he said. Thanks to many people, he said this project has become a reality