No doubt most folks in Minot are aware of the temporary water usage restrictions implemented by the City of Minot a week ago after four City wells were offline due to mechanical issues and scheduled maintenance.
We appreciate that customers curtailed their outdoor water usage enough to allow the City’s water reservoirs to be refilled. The cooperation from users reduced the overall demand for water, and helped the system provide enough water for essential uses while equipment was under repair.
Those repairs have been made and the affected wells were scheduled to be back online by this weekend, but the overall situation highlights the importance of completing the Northwest Area Water Supply project as soon as possible.
The NAWS project, which has been in the works for decades, has battled legal difficulties, funding challenges, and other hurdles to get to this point. While miles of pipeline have been completed between Minot and many of our neighboring communities, not one drop of Missouri River has been brought into the system yet. A treatment facility near Max is under construction; the plant was required as part of a legal settlement involving the project and the Canadian province of Manitoba. There are also other phases of the project that need to be completed, and those will be finished in the coming years.
When NAWS is completed, water from Lake Sakakawea will be pumped to that facility near Max, where it will be partially treated before it is piped into the Minot Water Treatment Plant for final treatment. It will then be provided to other communities including Berthold, Kenmare, Burlington, Sherwood, and Mohall, in addition to West River Water District, All Seasons Water District, North Prairie Water District, and Minot Air Force Base. Until then, Minot will continue to provide the water needed to meet the demands of those additional users, which was approximately 815,000 gallons per day in June.
Completing the NAWS project will help Minot’s water system compensate for times when City wells are offline for scheduled maintenance or when wells are down due to unexpected mechanical issues, thereby insuring that everyone on the NAWS system continues to have a reliable source of water. When Minot asked its residents to reduce outside water usage recently, water districts that provide water to Kenmare, Berthold, and other locations also asked residents in those communities to temporarily curb their usage. The message was clear: NAWS binds us all together, and collaboration among all water users is imperative.
In the near future, when water from Lake Sakakawea flows into Minot’s Water Treatment Plant, our system will no longer be so heavily reliant on water from Minot’s 14 wells. To be clear, our wells consistently provide more than enough raw water to accommodate Minot and the additional users. But when Lake Sakakawea water is added to the system, Minot and the other users will have a more consistent and abundant source of water. The lake water will be blended with Minot’s well water.
Also, with an additional source of water available, when the need arises to schedule maintenance on City wells, we’ll have more available storage in the system to alleviate any potential shortages brought on by unexpected events – like the recent equipment failures.
When NAWS is operational and the expansion of the Minot Water Treatment Plant is complete, the facility will be able to treat more than 18 million gallons per day. Currently, the plant is capable of treating roughly 12 million gallons per day, but during peak usage, nearly that same amount can easily be used every day, especially during extremely hot days like we had last week. That makes it difficult to maintain proper levels in the system’s storage facilities. When we have unexpected equipment malfunctions like last week, the amount of raw water we can bring into the system to be treated is diminished, meaning we can’t produce enough water to keep up with demand.
We’re closer than ever to fulfilling the original vision of NAWS – providing a clean, reliable source of drinking water to communities in north central North Dakota. At the City of Minot, we’re excited to be part of this project, and we take our role in assisting our neighbors seriously. We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve forged through the years with local, state, and federal political leaders and government officials. We continue to work with area communities, water providers, and Minot Air Force Base to provide water for their essential needs while we wait for NAWS to be completed.
Most of all, we look forward to the day when the first gallons of Lake Sakakawea water flow through the pipes and into the Minot treatment plant. That day has been a long time coming – and while it’s still a few years away, it’s getting closer every day.
Sincerely, City Hall.
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