Langdon City Commission and NRWD to hold Public Meeting

The Langdon City Commission and the consulting engineering firm, Moore Engineering based in Fargo, have provided the following information to the public.


Posted on 3/14/15

By Melissa Anderson

This information is meant to inform the public on the current situation and options that the Langdon City Commission will base their decision on. Residents are invited to a public forum meeting at the Langdon City Firehall on March 30, 6 p.m. to give their input to the Langdon City Commission prior to the final decision.

The City of Langdon has three options to consider in regards to the ongoing water project. The city can either go alone on the Munich Aquifer well field and build a state of the art water treatment plant, do a joint project with the Northeast Regional Water District(NRWD), or purchase water from NRWD’s finished pipeline from Devils Lake and combine said water with water from the current supply at Mt. Carmel Dam that has been treated by reverse osmosis (RO) in either a retrofitted plant or a newly constructed plant .

A new water source is needed for the City of Langdon because the current water source can be difficult to treat with the abilities of their existing treatment plant and more importantly is susceptible to drought. The existing water treatment plant can meet all US EPA primary and secondary drinking water standards but at times of surface runoff [rain] the water has proved to be difficult to treat. The treatment plant is in need of upgrades and all options are being studied.

The City of Langdon has submitted the funding applications to the USDA Rural Development and the North Dakota State Water Commission.

The cost of the Munich Aquifer option, according to Moore Engineering numbers, is $15 to $17.5 million dollars total project cost. Should the City of Langdon be able to obtain a 75 percent grant the loan amount would be $3.75 to $4.375 million. The joint venture of buying into the City of Devils Lake Water Treatment Plant and piping water to Langdon would be $23 to $25 million, according to Moore Engineering. If the two entities are able obtain a 75 percent grant the proposed loan amount  needed would be between $5.75 to $6.25 million.

Munich Aquifer Option

The City of Langdon would construct a new water treatment plant next to the existing treatment plant. The City of Langdon is in the process of finalizing water rights and conducting water quality tests on the Munich Aquifer which is 23 miles away from the City of Langdon. The City of Langdon would install pipe from the Munich Aquifer to the new water treatment plant. The City of Langdon would pump raw water from the Munich Aquifer and ultimately treat the raw water with advanced Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment. The project should be completed by 2017. There will be no interruption of water service and the residents will be able to access the new water source in 2017.

Devils Lake Water Option

The NRWD would install a pipe that would connect the Devils Lake Water Treatment Plant (WTP) with the NRWD. The pipeline consists of 8”, 12”, and 14” PVC pipe. The pipeline would connect into the City of Langdon near the reservoir. A pumping station would be constructed to meter the flow, control the pressure, and boost the chlorine residual if necessary. The pipeline that would pump treated water from the City of Devils Lake WTP into the Langdon distribution system could be completed by the end of 2017 at which time the residents will be able to access the new water source.

According to Moore Engineering, both project options have different projected annual costs. With the recent $10 a month water rate increase, all scenarios would be covered with a 75 percent grant.

The City of Langdon has been pursuing a better quality water source and drought resistant water supply for more than five years.  The City of Langdon has been progressing through the development stages of different water projects. More recently, the Langdon City Commissioners reviewed a collaboration with NRWD in connecting to the City of Devils Lake as a water source. The City of Langdon and NRWD have been discussing options since 2012.

Mt. Carmel Dam/Devils Lake Water Option

This option is relatively new and has yet to be thoroughly discussed by the commission as a whole. It has been proposed to NRWD but currently the lead engineer working with NRWD on this project is out office.

This option would have the City of Langdon buying 200 gallons a minute from the completed NRWD pipeline bringing water from the City of Devils Lake WTP. The City of Langdon would still be treating water from Mt Carmel dam but with the new process of RO, which is the same treatment used at the Devils Lake WTP.

This option would maintain the city control of the water treatment plant, with either a retro fit project to the current water treatment plant, or the construction of an entirely new facility.

The two treated waters would be combined in the clear water reservoir before being accessed by the community of Langdon and surrounding areas. The blending of the two treated waters will eliminate the current taste and odor issues.

This option addresses the issues of the drought scenario associated with Mt. Carmel Dam that was a major contributing factor to the initial search for a new water source. The additional source of water supplied by NRWD to the Langdon Area communities in conjecture with the Mt. Carmel Dam source eliminates the drought scenario.

This option has yet to be fully discussed by the Langdon City Commission nor has it been discussed with NRWD. No opinion was given for this option by either entity for that reason.

The Langdon City Commissioners Opinions

Charles “Chuck” Downs, President Langdon City Commission

“I prefer the Munich option. We would have our own water plant and be able to serve any future growth. We would have a water source that could sustain that growth.”

Jim Rademacher, Water and Sewer Commissioner

“I personally prefer the Munich well field with a city plant. We need to keep our tax dollars local, by investing into our own water treatment facility and jobs. Not into the Devils Lake Plant which will possibly be 10 years old by project end.

With the Munich Well field and a water plant we should be able to supply them with treated, partially treated, or raw water to suit their needs. With the ability to adjust cost accordingly.

With the Devils Lake option we are limited to supplying fully treated water at full cost with only a limited 800 gallon per minute coming from that source to supply all of the rural and City of Langdon needs. From construction to production our local economy would be impacted as opposed to most of the construction taking place in the Devils lake Area for that project.”

Cody Schlittenhard, Sanitation commissioner

“Personally, after all the time, debates, and hearing the publics concerns while being on the commission and in previous years not on the commission, my opinion is obviously that everyone wants good, clean, odor free, drinkable water, right out of their taps. I think the best option for that would be purchasing water from the City of Devils Lake.

It would eliminate the need for an expensive plant in this small community and having to pay for upkeep, maintenance, and any updates in the future. If we share the water with Devils Lake it will give us a bigger population for cost sharing in the case of any troubles or add ons that would be needed to be made to the plant/supply, instead of having to foot the whole bill with just the Langdon residents alone.

I, along with commissioner Marty Tetrault, have toured the Devils Lake Water Treatment Plant and between the quality of raw and treated water, cleanliness of the water plant, and the expertise of the engineer and staff running it my decision was very easy.”

Lawrence Henry, Police and Activity Center Commissioner

“We need to do what will benefit Langdon. Going with Devils Lake will take our tax dollars out of our town and also jobs from our water department. This means losing young families. If we choose the Munich option, Langdon will benefit in many ways throughout the construction phase, which means more people in our town spending their money, this will help our businesses and our sales tax funds. Langdon will also be able to benefit from any future projects that may come into town requiring any amount of water.

I have not made up my mind as there are too many unanswered questions at this point.  My opinion is there are more than two options for a water project for our community and we haven’t looked into all of those options. The Commission needs to look out for the best interests of our community.”

Marty Tetrault, Streets commissioner

“I prefer the Devils Lake option because of the water quality. The con to that option is that we are the end user and don’t have control. I like the Munich option because of the local control it would give us but think that Devils Lake is the best option for our community as a whole.  Working together with NRWD would be best for everyone involved.

The commissioners wish to thank all the residents of Langdon and the surrounding areas for being so patient and request those who are able to attend the public meeting to discuss the two options that have been presented here.

The Langdon City Commission stated there are pro’s and con’s to both options and we, as a commission, need your input to make the best decision we can for the community and to serve you the best water possible.

The public meeting to discuss the proposed options will be held on March 30 at the Langdon Firehall at 6 p.m. Following the meeting the commission will make their decision on which option to move forward on.

Gordon Johnson, the Executive Director for the Northeast Regional Water District (NRWD), provided the following information relating to the decision that NRWD made in regards to the proposed options. 

At time of print, NRWD preferred the Devils Lake water source and will move forward with that option. NRWD was aware of the new third option proposed by the City of Langdon.

The Northeast Rural Water District (NRWD) prefers the option of obtaining finished water product from the City of Devils Lake in a joint venture with the City of Langdon.

The cooperative quest for a better water supply for the City of Langdon and NRWD, the former Langdon Rural Water District and former North Valley Water District, began in 2010 with an Alternative Water Supply Engineering Study, largely funded by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The search for a solution began because of the poor quality water sourced from the Mt. Carmel Dam and Mulberry Creek. An analysis of those water sources by the Garrison Division Conservancy District revealed that a serious water shortage for both sources should a 1930’s type drought scenario occur.

The total projected cost for Northeast Regional Water District (NRWD) on a joint water project with the City of Langdon, whether it be treated water from Devils Lake or from the Munich Aquifer source, is estimated to be $23 to $24 million.

The NRWD preferred option would be obtaining finished water from the City of Devils Lake. To obtain this water a new finished water booster station would be constructed at the north end of the City of Devils Lake.

The new booster station would be used to “boost” pressure from the City of Devils Lake north to NRWD  and the City of Langdon through 60 miles of PVC pipeline into an underground concrete reservoir pumping station located near Nekoma.

The water would then continue to be delivered to the City of Langdon and NRWD customers. With the quality of PVC pipe today, and minimal pumping equipment, operation and maintenance (O and M) costs should be fairly inexpensive, and consistent, particularly with the large volume of water that is projected to be conveyed.

However, prior to any new construction being installed, NRWD and the City of Langdon would have to finalize a long-term agreement with the City of Devils Lake, which is currently in progress.

The long term agreement would include allocated gallons-per-minute capacity, a “buy-in” amount for the City of Devils Lake existing infrastructure, water rate purchase price from the City of Devils Lake, and how future costs of the operation and maintenance of the Devils Lake infrastructure would be cost shared into the future.

If NRWD and the City of Langdon could obtain an affordable funding package within the next several months, it is anticipated that water could be available to some residents in 2016 with all residents receiving the City of Devils Lake water by 2017.

Therefore, the quicker NRWD and the City of Langdon obtain grant funding the quicker the residents would receive water from a new source. It is anticipated that engineering and construction would take 2-2.5 years to complete.

City of Devils Lake Option:

The long term O and M costs associated with obtaining raw water from the Munich Aquifer supply has been a major concern to NRWD and is the main reason the City of Devils Lake finished water option is NRWD preferred route.

With the City of Devils Lake option, the water is already treated and ready for customer use. The City of Devils Lake obtains their raw water from the Spiritwood Aquifer, which is located 33 miles southeast of the City of Devils Lake, near the community of Tolna. The raw water is drawn from the Spiritwood aquifer through wells, metered and then delivered to the City of Devils Lake Water Treatment Plant (WTP) through a raw water transmission pipeline.

The well-field metering station, raw water transmission pipeline and WTP were constructed in 2009 with a total price tag of $17 million dollars. The WTP only requires iron and manganese filtration which is relatively low maintenance, as the raw water quality is very good and naturally soft with six grains hardness per gallon.

The City of Devils Lake water permit and WTP have an abundance of additional capacity to serve both the existing and future growth for the City of Devils Lake and NRWD and the City of Langdon.

The City of Devils Lake recently estimated that the cost to purchase water from them would be around $1.60 per thousand gallons, leaving the City’s infrastructure. Additional costs of delivery would bring the total cost per thousand gallons to an estimated $2.50 per thousand gallons for wholesale delivery, which is nearly $1.00 less than what the entities currently pay for O and M costs.

Munich Aquifer Option:

Obtaining water from the Munich Aquifer creates many hurdles, some of which are still uncertain. A few of the major hurdles include:

1. Construction, operation, and associated costs of a new raw water well field, raw water transmission pipeline, sophisticated WTP and concentrate disposal of a poor raw water source

2. Trying to obtain discharge permitting, which is still unknown if it can even be achieved, for the concentrate (contaminants) that are wasted from the sophisticated water treatment system.

In order to obtain water from the Munich Aquifer, many new components would have to be constructed. These components would be similar to what the City of Devils Lake already has in place, but the Munich aquifer has a much more difficult water to treat.

A sample of water taken from a test well in the Munich Aquifer in February showed hardness of 34 grains, high sulfate, high sodium, and high iron and manganese content (13 to 15 times the maximum contaminant level). This quality of water requires iron and manganese removal followed by membrane filtration to reduce hardness and sulfate and sodium levels.

A poor water source with the need for this type of treatment, often times creates uncertainty with the O and M costs and long term replacement costs of the water treatment infrastructure. These uncertainties leave water rates vulnerable.

After the water is treated at the WTP through membrane filtration, brine water, which in the water world is called “concentrate water” has to be discharged from the WTP.

The water is labeled concentrate, because it takes all the contaminants in the water and concentrates them into a waste stream. This concentrated stream amount up to 30 percent in volume of the water that is delivered into the WTP, which in this case may be up to 26 million gallons of concentrate annually.

The concentrate water has to be disposed of. Currently, it is proposed that the concentrate would be stored on the south edge of town in lagoon cells.

This concentrate water has to get a North Dakota Department of Health (NDDH) permit in order to be discharged into nearby streams, but it is unknown if discharge permitting would be granted by the state. This could cause capital and  O and M costs to rise significantly.

NRWD feels that the future exposure to unforeseen costs for maintaining the proposed Munich Aquifer WTP, particularly replacement of membranes, and maintaining the concentrate storage lagoons, if able to be permitted, could result in additional costs that would burden the water customers.

The City of Langdon’s engineers projected a finished water cost of $2.50 per thousand gallons in a joint project, or $3.01 per thousand for the City of Langdon alone, but NRWD feels that future maintenance costs could change those figures dramatically, and the Munich aquifer has more volatile cost then the City of Devils Lake option.

As far as the monthly cost to customers to cover cost of construction, that depends on how good a funding package we can obtain. However, assuming 75 percent grant on a $24 million project, the average cost to each customer would be over $12.00 per month.

The City of Langdon with a project on their own for $15 million, assuming 75 percent grant, would have a monthly debt service cost of over $15.00 per month per customer hook-up.

The total monthly water bill would of course include existing debt service costs, plus usage at the determined cost per thousand gallons.

NRWD will continue to pursue State Water Commission MR & I grant funding (of 75 percent, or even more) emphasizing this as a local solution to the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, which has a high project ranking. If possible we will push to get this funding ranked for the 2015-17 biennium, which begins on July 1, 2015.

For the remaining local share (loan portion), we will pursue either 30 year SRF at 2.5 percent interest, a state loan, or 40 year USDA-RD loan funding to keep monthly debt service as low as possible.

Due to the longevity of PVC pipelines, and the fact that the majority of the costs under the Devils Lake option is PVC pipeline, NRWD would have no qualms in stretching out the loan to a 40 year term, in order to try and maintain an affordable water rate to the people of NRWD and the City of Langdon.

In addition, the building of a new WTP to treat Munich Aquifer water versus teaming with an already constructed WTP is a critical part of this decision. Water plants are expensive to build and maintain, particularly with the more sophisticated treatment that would be needed to treat the Munich Aquifer water.

For that reason, the State Water Commission prefers to fund regional water projects over new small WTP. This option provides more “bang for the buck”.

Also, when looking into loan options, it doesn’t make sense to have a 40 year loan on a WTP, due to the life expectancy of  a WTP. A 20 year loan term on a newly constructed WTP would  dramatically increase monthly debt service costs to the customer.

To put the two options into perspective, doesn’t a regional water supply out of the City of Devils Lake, which would benefit a much larger population (up to 10,000 user hook-ups) all with the ability to cost share now, and into the future, versus City of Langdon, constructing a new WTP and only cost sharing with 1,000 hook-ups make a lot more sense?

(3) Why has this project taken so long? any project of this size takes time from inception, five  years or more to just nail down feasibility and funding is not uncommon, particularly any project that is a major change from the standard operations that a community is familiar with.