Water Commission okays $30 million for Grand Forks water treatment plant

Aug 24, 2017

State Water Commission meeting 8-23-17
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Water Commission has approved the request from Grand Forks for another $30 million to help pay for the city’s new water treatment plant.

The 2017 Legislature set aside the $30 million to be spent in the 2017-2019 biennium. The city had received $30 million in the 2015-2017 biennium.

After the approval, Grand Forks City Commissioner Ken Vien said he’s happy with the Commission’s action.

"Right now, the pklant is going to be substantially completed in October, 2019," Vien said in an interview. "It won't be operational until about June of 2020. There will be a lot of tweaking to get it up and running."

Vien and City Administrator Todd Feland briefed the new Water Commission members about the project – and the project’s finances. Feland told the Water Commission the plan is for a 50-50 cost share between the state and the city. And he said much of the city’s share will come through water rates.

"We have a 9 percent increase implemeted this year," Feland told the Commission. "We're proposing a 6 percent increase next year. Those will likely be that way through the next several years."

Feland said compared to other communities, Grand Forks water rates are in the lower quartile.

"We'll  end up being in the mid to upper quartile, when all those rates are implemented," Feland said.

Vien said the ballot language is being worked on for a half-percent city sales tax increase to be voted on in November. He said some of that will be used for the water plant, but the majority will be used for street repairs.

The total project cost will be $150 million.