- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - An environmental study on a pipeline that would bring Missouri River water to northwestern North Dakota is recommending a water treatment plan that officials say should advance the project.

The Northwest Area Water Supply project, or NAWS, is designed to bring water to a 10-county area, including Minot. The project was first authorized by Congress nearly two decades ago, but has been mired in legal issues.

A federal judge had ordered the project to be put on hold in 2010 until the environmental study was completed, in order to address complaints by Manitoba over the transfer of aquatic species from the Missouri River to the Sours River basin, which extends into Canada.

The environmental study released Friday recommends a $207 million project that would pre-treat the water before piping it to the Minot water treatment plant. It would use chlorination and ultraviolet disinfection to avoid the potential for biota transfer, the Minot Daily News reported.

A public hearing for the project is scheduled July 23 in Minot.

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven calls the recommendation a “big step forward,” but said a judge still needs to sign off on it.

“What is clear now, however, is the need to get good drinking water to Minot and the rural northern tier of our state,” Hoeven said. “It was an important project at the beginning, and it’s even more important today with the population of virtually every northwestern county growing.”

The pipeline would provide up to 26 million gallons of Missouri River water a day to more than 63,000 residents in North Dakota.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com

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