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City of Kenmare to prepare formal comments on NAWS

Kenmare’s mayor Roger Ness could not attend the NAWS public scoping session in Minot last week, but the current status of the project and its relevance to the Kenmare water supply is never far from his mind.

9/22/10 (Wed)

 

Kenmare’s mayor Roger Ness could not attend the NAWS public scoping session in Minot last week, but the current status of the project and its relevance to the Kenmare water supply is never far from his mind.

 

“It gets kind of frustrating,” he said. “We’re still looking at a six-year timeline. How long will Minot be able to supply us?”

 

The NAWS pipeline was opened between Kenmare and Berthold last December, and Minot city water started flowing through Kenmare taps. So far, operations have gone smoothly with little blending required from Kenmare’s former water supply. Ness referred to a couple of especially warm days during the summer when the city pumps were ready for activation, and the city announced a watering plan to restrict outdoor water use for certain parts of town on certain days, but neither action had to be taken. “We’re lucky this was a wet summer,” Ness said.

 

As Reclamation continues work on the supplemental Environmental Impact Statement required by the federal district court, the city of Kenmare continues preparing for the delivery of treated Missouri River water by planning the construction of a new 250,000 gallon water storage tank. “Right now, we have 110,000 gallons capacity between our reservoir and our old tower,” Ness said. “More storage will alleviate a lot of our problem. This will be a big step for our city.”

 

Kenmare, with assistance from city engineer Ryan Ackerman, has applied for funding from the USDA to help pay the cost of the storage tank construction. “We should hear within a month or so, and we could get up to 45 percent of the cost through a grant,” said Ness. “We’re hoping something like that comes in. Then we’ll go through finding the rest of the funding, and bid the project out. We’re not looking for that tower to be done until next fall.”

 

Kenmare’s water problems started with the EPA’s new rules regarding arsenic levels in drinking water supplies, a mandate that took effect in 2006. The city’s water tested at only a few parts per billion above the level of compliance, but the city council was forced to look at a variety of options to reduce arsenic.

 

Kenmare chose to sign on with NAWS partly in order to meet the arsenic standard at a reasonable cost to residents. “NAWS is important to us because of compliance with the arsenic rules,” said Ness. “It was one of our only choices. If it doesn’t pan out and we can’t get a water commitment, then it’s back to square one, looking at a water treatment plant, which we can’t afford.”

 

When the city council was discussing options, costs were estimated at $3.5 to $5 million for the type of water treatment plant Kenmare would need. “And that was three years ago,” Ness said. “Who knows what it would be now?”

 

Ness was one of several community leaders who testified at a field hearing for NAWS held last month in Minot by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan regarding the lawsuits by Manitoba and the state of Missouri that have led to delays in the project and construction of a water treatment facility for Missouri River water. “I don’t understand why people can’t sit down and solve this,” Ness said. “It’s very critical something happens very quickly.”

Ness and Kenmare Community Development Corporation executive director Ralph Hoversten are working with Ackerman to prepare formal comments to submit to the Bureau of Reclamation on behalf of NAWS for the supplemental EIS by the October 12th deadline.