Thursday, July 7, 2011

Overview of the Western Area Water Supply (WAWS) Authority


  • West 2nd street, west side of Williston; congested; hard to make left turn when heading back onto highway toward Montana, Watford City
  • US-85 north of Williston, truck bypass, County Road 6; at Love's Truck Stop (to be built in 2012)

December 18, 2012: from the Dickinson Press

  • original authority: $110 million; will be repaid through sales
  • another $40 million in loans will be requested in the next legislative session
  • and another $80 million will be requested after that due to huge growth
  • by 2025, expected to serve more than 80,000 people (about $3,000/person; and it's a renewable resource) 
May 14, 2012: groundbreaking, Crosby to Wildrose water pipeline
The Western Area Water Supply Authority will be breaking ground on a water pipeline between Crosby and Wildrose Tuesday.

The new pipeline will carry treated drinking water from the Missouri River to Burke, Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail, and Williams counties. By the end of this year, Ray, Tioga, Stanley, Ross, Wildrose, Crosby, Columbus, Fortuna, Ambrose, and Watford City will have access to Western Area Water Supply Project water. [Comment: I remember independent water suppliers fighting WAWS, but to the best of my knowledge, the indies had no plans to provide water for cities for the long term. From the little I know, WAWS looks like a brilliant decision in hindsight.]
May 9, 2012: see comment this date, important. 
March 29, 2012: the state Water Commission is debating benefits of WAWS and the case brought against it by the Independent Water Providers Group. Story in the Bismarck Tribune.  The IWPG says WAWS was grossly overbuilt (which I find interesting). WAWS will provide drinking water to towns throughout the oil patch long after the oil industry is done fracking; the IWPG does not provide drinking water to these communities. The IWPG argues that WAWS is unfair competition paid for by the state.

Original Post

Link here (this link will break soon).

WAWS Authority: the City of Williston, McKenzie County Rural Water District, Williams Rural Water District, R&T Rural Water Association, and the legislative-appointed BDW Rural Water System, will own and operate the supply and transmission system. The WAWS will make direct sales to different entities, who in turn will sell water to individual homeowners and businesses.

Background: Earlier this year, the North Dakota State Legislature passed a law that would fund $110 million of the total project. A water treatment plant, that is headquartered in Williston, ND, currently has a 10 million gallons a day water capacity and will have additional filter systems added that will increase that to 14 million gallons a day in the next two years. Future projections are that the project could produce 28 million gallons of water a day.

Project designer: AE2S, Grand Forks.

Status of project: AE2S is currently designing the project.

Time line: The project is expected to start later this year and be completed in 2012. It will include pipelines that will transport water to the communities of Williston, Watford City, Stanley, Tioga, Wildrose, Ray, Crosby, and Alexander.

Funding: The project is being funded from the State Water Commission, State General Fund, and the Bank of North Dakota. Water sales to the oil industry are expected to pay for 80 percent of the project.


On a separate issue, a short story on the Southwest Water Authority can be found here.


  1. Just a question but are any "stimulus" funds involved?

  2. I haven't heard, but probably too late to apply.

  3. Here we go again. This time it is a government takeover of the water supply industry. There are private industry providers who are investing in this very market. Why is the government setting up to compete with the private sector?

  4. Yes, I had mixed emotions, especially when I saw the amount of money being paid to a consultant/designer. I have to trust the legislators, etc., studied the situation closely before making the decision.

    It did appear that to me, from a distance, that the various private parties were unable to put together a package that was as comprehensive as the one WAWS apparently has.

    WAWS appears to be very, very similar to the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) in San Antonio, TX, which is responsible for drinking water for one million people (and growing) as well as protecting the aquifer. I now live in San Antonio, and, except for occasional letters to the local editor, it (SAWS) seems to be working out quite well.

  5. What companies are buying & hauling water in Williston?

  6. That I don't know and I haven't seen any stories on such. Maybe someone here will have some insight. If I see anything, I will post it.

    Also, if I see an ad in "Talkin' the Bakken" I will post that information.

  7. I own a well north of Williston. I have heard rumors that WAWS will be building 4 depots north of the river within the next 6 months. Can you confirm that?

    Also I have tried to find out more about the company running the depot at 2nd Street West, Williston, and rumored to run all future depots, called Armstrong Hot Water Depots. Who are they? Are they the only ones heating water for WAWS? Can they heat other wells? Do you think this is where the industry is heading? As a well owner do you think I should try to provide hot water as well?

    Any insight at all would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Great comment, great questions. Beyond what I know. Hopefully readers will provide some detail.

      Since the comment may be lost at a post this old, I will ask the question at a stand-alone post.

    2. Thank you.

    3. I'm new to your website. Where will it be posted so I can see any responses?

    4. I will post the responses/updates at this post: