Stutsman Water District Grows with Local Cooperation and Decisions – A Case Study

Many years ago, the conversations began as, “How are we going to provide water service to consumers across vast, scarcely populated areas of rural America?” After cities, towns, and rural water districts successfully provided solutions, the concern became, “Can we maintain quality service and an adequate water supply for future generations?” Through no small feat, Stutsman Rural Water District (SRWD) has proven the answer to be, “Yes!” Sustainability isn’t a concept taken lightly by this Rural Water District.

History SRWD in Jamestown, North Dakota was originally constructed in 1985-1986. The customer base consisted of 675 rural users in 14 small towns that had individual wells, and users in 15 urban subdivisions. The water system’s infrastructure consisted of 900 miles of PVC pipeline, a 400 gallon per minute (gpm) water treatment plant and 9 additional pump stations with underground storage. The original system provided water to customers within a 2,500 square mile area. From 1987 – 2010, SRWD’s water system experienced slow but steady growth. In 2010 SRWD had reached its design capacity. Potential customers were being turned away due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to serve any additional users. It was at that point, the SRWD Board of Directors decided to move forward with a system-wide expansion project.

SRWD’s System-Wide Expansion Project began in 2010. The project is being completed in phases due to the availability of funding. SRWD is currently in the process of completing Phase 6 of the system-wide expansion project. The district’s goal is to acquire funding for Phase 7 of the project this year and complete the final phase of the expansion project in 2020. To date, the system-wide expansion project includes the addition of 1,160 new customers, 1,100 miles of pipeline, 2 pump stations, 4 above ground water storage tanks and increasing the water treatment plant from 400 gpm to 2,000 gpm.

SRWD’s Industrial System expanded its customer base in 2009 by committing to provide 198 million gallons of industrial water per year to the Great River Energy Power Plant. The industrial contract also included transporting 46 million gallons per year of discharge water from the power plant, 9 miles, through a 12-inches pipeline, to a Wastewater Treatment Plant in the City of Jamestown, ND. In 2014 SRWD extended its industrial system by providing 145 million gallons of industrial water per year to the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy Ethanol Plant. SRWD’s industrial infrastructure includes a network of PVC pipeline ranging in size from 12 – 16 inches, 2 industrial pump stations and 2 large above ground water storage tanks.

SRWD’s Current Water System meets the water supply needs of a diverse customer base including basic residential, agricultural, dairy and livestock producers, commercial businesses, campgrounds and seasonal cabins, industrial customers, and bulk water sales provided to 3 cities/towns. SRWD serves all of Stutsman County and portions of 5 surrounding counties including LaMoure, Logan, Kidder, Foster and Griggs.

The current customer base has grown from 675 to 2,400 rural users which expands into 20 small towns, 33 urban subdivisions, a large 1,500 cow dairy operation and the industrial customers located in the Spiritwood Energy Park Association (SEPA) which includes a power plant and an ethanol plant. SRWD’s infrastructure, which began at 900 miles of PVC pipeline, now includes 2,150 miles of pipeline stretching across a 7,000 square mile area, a 2,000 gpm water treatment plant, 12 pump stations with underground storage, 2 elevated water towers and 4 above ground water storage tanks.

Highlights of Stutsman Rural Water District

SRWD supplies bulk water to 3 towns. The towns have abandoned their aging water treatment facilities to receive a dependable, high quality water supply from SRWD. The cities have their own employees who handle customer billing, maintain their city water supply systems and provide water testing to meet North Dakota Department of Health requirements.

SRWD works cooperatively with its neighboring water districts to provide water service to as many rural users as possible. Often the users that still need water service are located in hard-to-reach fringe areas. A district may not have existing infrastructure or adequate water capacity in its service area, but a neighboring water district is able to provide the service. SRWD has allowed neighboring water districts to provide service to consumers within SRWD boundaries which they are not able to feasibly serve. Several of those water districts have reciprocated and allowed SRWD to provide service to potential users within their boundaries as long as they also have the same feasibility issues.

SRWD worked with the City of Carrington, ND to assist a large commercial dairy operation (VanBedaf Dairy) located 3 miles west of Carrington. In 2010, it was discovered that the dairy had limited water resources for its operations. The dairy was located near the northern boundary of SRWD; however, SRWD also had limited capability to provide additional service to that location. SRWD contracted with the City of Carrington to purchase up to 35 million gallons of water annually for distribution to the dairy and any additional new users in that area to be installed during the SRWD’s system-wide expansion project.

In 2009 and again in 2014, infrastructure was installed to provide industrial water from the SRWD water treatment plant and the City of Jamestown to the Spiritwood Energy Park. The 9-mile infrastructure transports discharge water from the park to the City of Jamestown’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. SRWD’s decision to expand its customer base, through the addition of industrial customers located in the energy park, has provided immense benefits. Benefits are in the form of rate stability and contribution to reserve funds for future needs of the water system.

SRWD employs 6 professionals: A General Manager, Distribution Manager, Office Manager and 3 certified water treatment and distribution specialists in the field. SRWD provides quality water and sustainable service because of cooperative agreements with neighboring towns and their employees, industries and other water utility providers. Through the collective efforts of all stakeholders involved, SRWD continues to support economic development and promote growth in the region.