Langdon City Commission makes decision on city water

After years of studies and  months of agonizingly thorough checking of every option and scenario, the Langdon City Commission made their decision on where the city will be getting their water from.

Northeast Water District Sites - Proposed Capactity, Elevation, and Flow 2 1-19-16

Posted on 1/23/16

By Melissa Anderson

The City of Langdon will join Northeast Regional Water District (NRWD) in outsourcing water from the City of Devils Lake.

The decision was made four to one at a special meeting on Monday, January 18 following a joint meeting with NRWD on Wednesday, January 13.

At the joint meeting on January 13, NRWD along with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services (AE2S) and Moore Engineering went over the most up-to-date figures and estimates that AE2S have.

The total joint project cost  for building the infrastructure to bring the water from Devils Lake to the area is estimated at $20,852,786.11 which will be a 50/50 split between NRWD and the City of Langdon. The City of Langdon will then have suggested interior projects costing  $1,021,250.00.

This project and the interior project are slated to have 75 percent grant funding from the North Dakota State Water Commission which has already given 35 percent grant funding to go towards a feasibility study and pre construction engineering.

At previous meetings of the State Water Commission, NRWD General Manager Gordon Johnson explained that the project was well received as a regional project and verbally committed to for funding by the State Water Commission.

During that joint meeting Johnson went over the best and worst case scenarios for what the projected costs would be for the water and to the City of Langdon users. The worst case scenario for costs per user, meaning what users will see their water bills increase by, is $20.23. The best case scenario shows that the cost per user will be $16.66.

These two scenarios do not take into account the $10 rate increase that the city put in place last year to help ease into whichever project was chosen. With that amount figured in to ease the projects financial burden on users, the figures drop to just $10.23 for worst case and $6.66 for the best case.

One additional perk with the NRWD joint project is that the City of Langdon could be able to pull from two water sources. The City of Devils Lake would provide the majority of the water, and when needed, the  NRWD plant in Cavalier could supply additional water for Langdon’s use. Additionally, the agreement between the city and NRWD has no-buy in clause for the existing NRWD infrastructure.

At the joint meeting, Johnson also updated the commission with news that the City of Cando had expressed interest in this particular project. With the State Water Commission stressing regional projects, this is good news as this would bring down costs per share for both NRWD and the City of Langdon.

The engineer from AE2S, Cal Thelen, proposed that the commission put it to a vote of the citizens and let them decide. Many on the commission agreed this would be a good solution.

The city commission requested Langdon City Attorney Quentin Wenzel to look into the wording and specifics for a vote to take place, and the city commission met again the following Monday.

At the Monday night meeting on January 18, Wenzel and Scott Stewart, NRWD’s legal counsel, presented what they had found in regards to putting it to a vote.

The legal counsels agreed that the city would have to place the vote in an ordinance format and follow the protocols as such.

After discussion of having the ordinance and holding a special election, Commissioner Marty Tetrault stated his thoughts on the matter of the options regarding water.

Tetrault stated the water from Devils Lake is the best option, the funding to get it to Langdon is there now, and that the funding necessary to make the financial burden of the Munich or Mt. Carmel water options feasible is not there.

Following this, Tetrault made the motion to begin the proceedings to join with NRWD in getting Devils Lake water. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Cody Schlittenhard. All of the commissioners, excluding Commission Chair Chuck Downs, voted in favor of the measure.

Following the meeting, the commissioners said the following on why they voted either in favor or against.

Chuck Downs: “I am not in favor of this rural water project the way it is laid out right now.”

Jim Radamacher: “It’s a matter of head over heart. My heart says here but head says number. The unknowns of the water either through Munich or Mt. Carmel had an impact. If we were to spend some $20 million, and we still had smelly and  bad tasting water that would be  the worst. Even taking the money out of the equation, Devils Lake is the better quality water. Our timeline with the funding also impacted the decision.”

Cody Schlittenhard: “ It’s the right way to go. It’s the best water, more users, and it’s seems to me that in the long run this is the preferable choice. “

Lawrence Henry: ”I don’t feel comfortable with the Mt. Carmel source with the taste and water problems. With the Munich aquifer, looking years down the road and if it doesn’t recharge like it is suppose to – how do you justify your decision? Devils Lake is the proven source and good quality water. There is also the fact that we can get two sources from either Devils Lake or Cavalier.”

Marty Tetrault: “I don’t like outsourcing anything but when looking at the total picture, Devils Lake has the best quality of water. When we first started this, it was to get the best quality of water.”

Tetrault stated the impetus to make the motion at the meeting on the 18th was a result of the timeline the State Water Commission had with being able to provide funds for the project as well as the unknowns the other projects had in regards to funding.

“We needed to move along with a project instead of pushing it off.  We were in the same spot as we were a year ago.”

Now that the Langdon City Commission has made the decision, the next step is to create the city ordinance that the citizens of Langdon will have to approve by way of a city-wide vote.

The Langdon City Commission and NRWD will hold two informational meetings in the near future for residents to attend and understand the decision as well as the other options.

Following those informational meetings, the city will hold a special election for City of Langdon residents to either allow the project to move forward or put the city commission back at square one.

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