The federal permitting process is the current hurdle to clear in the effort to develop an intake to eventually bring water from Lake Sakakawea into the Northwest Area Water Supply project.
“I know we have all been waiting to make sure we get water out of the lake, and we are getting closer on that,” Andrea Travnicek, director of the Department of Water Resources, told the legislative Water Topics Overview Committee in Minot Tuesday. The goal is to complete an intake, biota treatment plant and pumping structures to allow for water to flow from the lake to Minot.
Despite issues with permitting, funding, construction complexities and supply chain concerns, Travnicek noted, “We are making progress.”
The first contract on the interior work at the Snake Creek facility does not require U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permission, which allowed for advertisement of bids. Bid opening has been scheduled for this week. The intent is to finish work under contract one by the spring of 2024.
Contract two requires a federal 408 Permit to proceed.
“So we are working hand in hand here with the Corps, making sure that we’re answering any questions,” Travnicek said. “This permit is extremely important for us to be able to move forward in a timely manner. And this is where it’s that six- to 12-month timeframe. We’ve heard worst-case scenario could be 18 months.”
Due to funding issues at the federal level that were slowing the Corps ability to process Section 1156 agreements, the State Water Commission approved spending more than $200,000 to fund that process and ensure the agreement for the intake, Travnicek said.
Pending the federal permit, bidding for contract two is likely to take place in 2023. Contract two will have two phases — one for a discharge pipeline to move water to the biota treatment plant at Max, which should happen by winter 2023, and the other for the permanent intake structure to be completed in 2024 or 2025, Travnicek said.
Substantial completion is expected on the biota treatment plant at Max before the end of December, with final completion in June 2024.
The Max treatment plant is necessary to address concerns in Manitoba about potential biota transfer from the Missouri River system into the Hudson Bay system. From Max, water will be piped to the Minot Water Treatment Plant for further treatment and distribution throughout the region.
“This is very unique. This is the only place in the country, in the world, where we’ve got two water treatment plants,” Travnicek said.
The City of Minot expects to hire three to five operators. The cost of operation and maintenance is a federal responsibility. The federal government will contract with the state, which will contract with the City of Minot for operation.
Tavnicek said her department has discussed federal funding with the state’s congressional delegation. The state receives Municipal, Rural & Industrial water funding, but those federal dollars are capped, she said.
“We will meet our cap then,” she said. “That’s why we have the discussions with the federal government and the federal delegation – to see what our next steps will be in regards to that.”