The Langdon City Commission discussed the course of action the commission should undertake in garnering public input as well as the options that are available for a new water source and treatment.
Posted on 4/18/15
By Melissa Anderson
The commissioners discussed at length the idea of putting the decision to a citywide vote. Commissioners Cody Schlittenhard and Marty Tetrault voiced their approval of this step in allowing the residents to have input and a say in the decision making process as it is the citizens who will be paying for whatever is decided upon.
“It’s my view that you don’t need to put it to a vote, but you certainly can,” Langdon City Attorney Cameron Sillers stated.
Sillers went on to explain that if they do decide to have a city vote, that the decision must be made beforehand by the commission as to how the results of the vote will be used.
The results of the vote can either be used as recommendation by the citizens or as a binding decision on which options will be pursued.
“Ultimately, it is the commissioners who must decide,” Sillers said.
The commissioners agreed that it would have to be made clear to the voters how the results of the vote will be used once collected.
Tetrault stated that he believes that the vote should be a binding vote.
Sillers raised the question, “Is the public informed enough on the proposed options to even have a vote? I’m not very confident I know really what the story is.”
“So much information has been put out there in the last six months. If they are not informed, it’s their own fault,” Schlittenhard stated.
Tetrault reminded the commission that in all his years on the commission that this was one of the biggest decision that the commission has faced.
He also stated that this, the water issue, is not the only expensive project in need of being addressed. There is also the street problem and the recent tax increase on properties that will be affecting the residents of Langdon.
“Pretty soon our taxes are going to be $3,000 to $3,500, and I don’t know what that’s going to do to the citizens of Langdon, especially the elderly community with a set income,” Tetrault stated.
The commission then moved on to the discussion of the options they have before them.
Commissioner Lawrence Henry stated that he feels that the commission should be exploring more than just the Munich Aquifer or the Devils Lake option.
Henry suggested the Greater Ramsey Water District (GRWD)as a possible water source for the City of Langdon.
The discussion on this option received information from Jeremy Schuler, who is familiar with the GRWD and stated that the pipeline used by GRWD is to small to provide an adequate supply to the City of Langdon and that logistically, a water tower would be needed.
An option suggested by Commission President Charles “Chuck” Downs would be to continue to treat Mt. Carmel water and either build a new water treatment plant or retrofit the current plant to make it capable of treating the water through the reverse osmosis membrane technology.
The retrofitting of the current water treatment plant and continuing to use Mt. Carmel water would be the cheapest option available to the City of Langdon, according to Downs.
Downs also revisited the previously discussed idea of the treating of Mt. Carmel water through the reverse osmosis and then blending it with water provided by Northeast Regional Water District (NRWD). This option was declined by NRWD previously.
Downs reminded the commission of the expenditures already undertaken by the commission to explore water options such as the Munich Aquifer and a drought study.
“We have to do what people can afford. We need the streets, but we have to have water,” Downs stated.
The issue of if the Mt. Carmel water could be treated in such a way to ensure there would be no smell was also discussed.
“I have not gotten a straight answer on that,” Downs stated.
The commissioners discussed what could be expected for funding in the form of grants. Funding would not be known until the project is presented to sources. A project must be decided upon prior to a presentation being given to the funding sources.
Downs, Tetrault and Commissioner Jim Rademacher all expressed that the city should only expect to get about 45 percent funding and that “anything more than that is a gift”.
Downs informed his fellow commissioners that after speaking with the USDA-Rural Development that if the project is under $5 million that it does not need approval beyond the state, which would save time. He also state that the RD stated that it was highly likely that the city could get a 45 percent grant funding for a city alone project.
“We know what Devils Lake is going to cost. We know what Munich is going to cost. Let’s put together some numbers for what it would cost to treat Mt. Carmel water and get an answer that it would be guaranteed 99.9 percent non-stink,” Downs stated.
The city commissioners agreed to further explore the option of treating Mt. Carmel water with the reverse osmosis membrane to determine the costs associated with this option and also if there can be a guarantee that the water will be odorless once treated.
The commission was uncertain that Moore Engineering, who had no representative present at the meeting, would be able to collect the necessary information for this option prior to the city election that will be held in June.
In Other Business
• The commissioners granted annual funding requests from the Cavalier County Job Development Authority.
• Cameron Sillers informed the commission that he had not had any correspondence with Wells Fargo or their attorneys regarding the Messner house. The commission decided that once the deadline of April 15 was passed, the utilities would be cut, and the house demolished .