Posted 3/22/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
A new proposal is under consideration for a possible agreement between Tioga and the Western Area Water Supply Authority on the sale of the unused water standpipe along N.D. 40.
The authority offered the city $100,000 for the property. This is significantly below the rough estimation of $3 million the city paid for the project.
The project was built in the early days of the oil boom, largely to support residential water service in a development on the north side of Tioga, which was ultimately never built.
The piece of infrastructure had no potential to serve the rest of the city, and so it has sat largely unused since its construction.
The authority believes it can, with improvements, use it to supply water to rural areas north of town.
“It would work really well with the distribution system we’re building,” said WAWSA executive director, Jaret Wirtz.
The $100,000 offer would come nowhere near to recouping the city for the costs of the project, but Mayor Drake McClelland questioned if it is even a good idea to try to sell it at cost.
“What’s it going to look like to build the thing with taxpayer money only to turn around and sell it?” he said.
The city originally made an offer of $150,000, which WAWSA countered.
Commissioner Heather Weflen proposed a cost-sharing agreement on another water infrastructure project, in addition to the $100,000.
The authority is currently planning on building a 16-inch waterline to Tioga, which Wirtz said is needed to meet the city’s current population.
The city wants another line put in that would run across 66th Street to the old main pipeline running parallel to N.D. 40.
Speaking after the meeting, Water Commissioner John Grubb explained the extra pipe would have a variety of benefits to the city, the two main ones being lowered maintenance costs and improved water circulation.
The project itself falls under the city’s jurisdiction. Wirtz said the authority’s obligations were never defined to provide service to residents. The authority only brings the water to the community, and the city is then responsible for infrastructure to the residents and businesses.
“We’re building the supply to the doorsteps of the community,” Wirtz explained.
Time’s running out
But the possibility of a cost-sharing agreement on the water-loop project as part of the sale of the standpipe is something the WAWSA board might consider, Wirtz said.
If the board agreed to the deal, a change order would be placed on the current plans for the 16-inch pipe, a project which has already been awarded to a contractor.
With the option on the table, the commission wants to be sure what its share of the costs would be before officially making the offer.
Wirtz said a decision would need to be made quickly. The contractor is ready to go on the 16-inch line.
“With the warm weather, everyone’s chomping at the bit,” he said. The Tioga Commission tabled the measure until figures can be developed for the cost-share project.