- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A system bringing treated Missouri River water to northwestern North Dakota has experienced a significant drop in industrial water sales as activity has slowed in the oil patch due to slumping crude prices.

Gross monthly industrial water sales through the Western Area Water Supply project slipped from a peak of more than $4 million in October 2014 to under $1 million in June, The Bismarck Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1GOyezj ).

“It has really dwindled off. We’re seeing less and less demand for industrial water,” WAWS Executive Director Jaret Wirtz said.

However, the system can weather the period of slow sales because it is ahead on paying off $189 million in state loans thanks to the periods of higher sales, according to Wirtz.

Bank of North Dakota President Eric Hardmeyer confirmed that, saying the system is about $10 million ahead on payments.

“They’re in good standing. All their loans are current,” he said.

The $480 million water system is still being completed. It eventually will serve industry and up to 125,000 people in a five-county area.

The Independent Water Providers group, which also serves industry in the region, believes the scope of WAWS should be re-examined given the oil slowdown so that water supply infrastructure is not overbuilt.

“Market conditions have changed, which must be recognized,” spokesman Steve Mortenson said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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