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Posted on June 11, 2021 at 11:14 AM by Bryan Obenchain
No doubt most folks in Minot are aware of the temporary water usage restrictions implemented by the City of Minot a week ago after four City wells were offline due to mechanical issues and scheduled maintenance.
We appreciate that customers curtailed their outdoor water usage enough to allow the City’s water reservoirs to be refilled. The cooperation from users reduced the overall demand for water, and helped the system provide enough water for essential uses while equipment was under repair.
Those repairs have been made and the affected wells were scheduled to be back online by this weekend, but the overall situation highlights the importance of completing the Northwest Area Water Supply project as soon as possible.
The NAWS project, which has been in the works for decades, has battled legal difficulties, funding challenges, and other hurdles to get to this point. While miles of pipeline have been completed between Minot and many of our neighboring communities, not one drop of Missouri River has been brought into the system yet. A treatment facility near Max is under construction; the plant was required as part of a legal settlement involving the project and the Canadian province of Manitoba. There are also other phases of the project that need to be completed, and those will be finished in the coming years.
When NAWS is completed, water from Lake Sakakawea will be pumped to that facility near Max, where it will be partially treated before it is piped into the Minot Water Treatment Plant for final treatment. It will then be provided to other communities including Berthold, Kenmare, Burlington, Sherwood, and Mohall, in addition to West River Water District, All Seasons Water District, North Prairie Water District, and Minot Air Force Base. Until then, Minot will continue to provide the water needed to meet the demands of those additional users, which was approximately 815,000 gallons per day in June.
Completing the NAWS project will help Minot’s water system compensate for times when City wells are offline for scheduled maintenance or when wells are down due to unexpected mechanical issues, thereby insuring that everyone on the NAWS system continues to have a reliable source of water. When Minot asked its residents to reduce outside water usage recently, water districts that provide water to Kenmare, Berthold, and other locations also asked residents in those communities to temporarily curb their usage. The message was clear: NAWS binds us all together, and collaboration among all water users is imperative.
In the near future, when water from Lake Sakakawea flows into Minot’s Water Treatment Plant, our system will no longer be so heavily reliant on water from Minot’s 14 wells. To be clear, our wells consistently provide more than enough raw water to accommodate Minot and the additional users. But when Lake Sakakawea water is added to the system, Minot and the other users will have a more consistent and abundant source of water. The lake water will be blended with Minot’s well water.
Also, with an additional source of water available, when the need arises to schedule maintenance on City wells, we’ll have more available storage in the system to alleviate any potential shortages brought on by unexpected events – like the recent equipment failures.
When NAWS is operational and the expansion of the Minot Water Treatment Plant is complete, the facility will be able to treat more than 18 million gallons per day. Currently, the plant is capable of treating roughly 12 million gallons per day, but during peak usage, nearly that same amount can easily be used every day, especially during extremely hot days like we had last week. That makes it difficult to maintain proper levels in the system’s storage facilities. When we have unexpected equipment malfunctions like last week, the amount of raw water we can bring into the system to be treated is diminished, meaning we can’t produce enough water to keep up with demand.
We’re closer than ever to fulfilling the original vision of NAWS – providing a clean, reliable source of drinking water to communities in north central North Dakota. At the City of Minot, we’re excited to be part of this project, and we take our role in assisting our neighbors seriously. We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve forged through the years with local, state, and federal political leaders and government officials. We continue to work with area communities, water providers, and Minot Air Force Base to provide water for their essential needs while we wait for NAWS to be completed.
Most of all, we look forward to the day when the first gallons of Lake Sakakawea water flow through the pipes and into the Minot treatment plant. That day has been a long time coming – and while it’s still a few years away, it’s getting closer every day.
Sincerely, City Hall.
You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.
Posted on May 28, 2021 at 3:05 PM by Bryan Obenchain
It’s been a decade since the events of 2011 forever changed our community and altered the lives of thousands of Minot residents and residents throughout the Mouse River Valley.
For some, 10 years hasn’t erased the painful memories of losing a home or a business to floodwaters; some of those memories will never be erased. For many, the past decade has been a winding road to personal recovery, often fraught with financial potholes, detours, and roadblocks.
As we approach the 10th anniversary, there remains a divide on how to best commemorate the events of 2011. There is no one right answer – and there is no wrong answer. Ahead of the upcoming anniversary, the City of Minot and its community and area partners have scheduled an event for June 26 in Oak Park. While plans are still being finalized, there will be a variety of elements to the day, likely including:
For some, the day will be an opportunity to remind themselves that they have persevered through everything Mother Nature threw at them in 2011 and afterward, overcoming personal and financial challenges to arrive in 2021 in a better place.
For others, the event represents everything they’d like to forget from 2011 and the subsequent recovery years, from the loss of their home or business to the financial and personal ruin caused by the event a decade ago.
Every resident affected by the disaster is entitled to their personal feelings, their methods of coping, and whether or not they choose to participate in the upcoming events. Everyone heals in their own way and at their own pace; some will never heal. We understand and respect all sentiments, all opinions, all feelings.
Like many other residents, my family’s recovery from the flood isn’t over, and won’t be over anytime soon. Ours is just one of thousands of stories, each one written and personally lived by our friends, our neighbors, and our community. Although all of us affected by the flood are bound together by the same event, the experiences are uniquely our own. We are all in varying stages of recovery - physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually.
I want to make one thing clear: This is not a celebration of the flood. Far from it. This event is to honor the people of our community and those in other affected communities – it’s always been about the people. The June 26 event will not solely focus on the memories of 2011. The day will also be an opportunity to share our stories of what has been accomplished in the years after the flood. And from that perspective, we should be proud of the work that has been done to secure the future of Minot and other communities in the Mouse River Basin. We also know there is a staggering amount of work ahead of us, and we accept that challenge.
The flood of 2011 isn’t the only thing that has physically changed our community in the past decade; our resilience and our response to those events have transformed Minot into a city with very visible flood protection measures in the form of levees, walls, and pump stations. To that end, we continue to work with local, state, and federal partners to design, fund, and construct a basin-wide plan that provides flood protection well into the future.
Often the events of 2011 are in the forefront of our minds, the sights and smells of that summer seared into our memories even as we remind ourselves of how much we’ve accomplished since the water receded. Yet, the past 10 years also often seemed to have happened in slow motion, as the process of recovery grinds its way through our community’s history and our own personal experiences.
As a community, we embrace everything that’s happened in the years since 2011. While using history as our guide, we focus on our city’s future and our personal futures. At the City of Minot, we certainly have not forgotten the events of 2011; we are reminded daily of what’s at stake as we dedicate our efforts to designing, funding, and constructing the largest infrastructure project in Minot’s history. We cannot change the events of the past, but we most certainly can use the lessons learned to create a brighter future for our community and our residents.
We hope to see you in Oak Park on June 26.
Posted on May 14, 2021 at 1:02 PM by Bryan Obenchain
Public Works is by far the largest department at the City of Minot, encompassing a wide swath of everyday life in our community; many of the services provided by Public Works are often taken for granted, as they have simply become engrained in our daily routines.
But we need to recognize the efforts of these skilled professionals. The week of May 16-22 is National Public Works Week, the 61st annual recognition of the work done by public works employees in the United States and Canada. The City of Minot employees under the Public Works umbrella perfectly represent the theme of “Stronger Together.”
You may see Public Works Director Dan Jonasson and Assistant Public Works Director Jason Sorenson in the news a lot, answering questions, speaking for the department, or discussing flood control efforts, the Northwest Area Water Supply project, or recycling. As administrators, that’s part of their job. But they represent hundreds of employees who are also your friends, neighbors, or family members and are the backbone of the largest department at the City of Minot.
How does the Public Works Department impact the lives of Minot’s residents on a typical day?
You wake up and take a shower. Water treated and provided by Public Works.
You flush the toilet. Sanitary sewer system provided and maintained by Public Works.
You place your garbage cart near the street to be emptied. Sanitation collection and disposal provided by Public Works.
You drive to work on the streets of Minot. Street maintenance provided by Public Works.
You take the City bus to or from work or school. Bus service provided and vehicles maintained by Public Works.
Those Minot Police Department vehicles patrolling our community? Custom-outfitted and maintained by Public Works.
You visit City Hall or any other City owned facility. Buildings operated and maintained by Public Works.
You take part in a graveside service of a friend. Rosehill Cemetery operated and maintained by Public Works.
The responsibilities of employees in Public Works are as varied as the employees themselves.
Mark Paddock, Justin Seifert and the rest of their crew work 24 hours a day every day to ensure the water treatment plant is operating efficiently to provide clean water for not only Minot residents, but for many other communities through the NAWS system and for rural water systems throughout the area. The Minot plant, which is in the final stages of a much-needed expansion, treats more than 2.5 billion gallons of water a year.
You’re not likely to ever see Kari Hoyt or Julia Vorgitch fixing a pothole or driving a City bus, but they are vital to the Public Works’ Department’s day-to-day operation. The department runs smoothly because of the efforts of Kari, Julia and the entire administrative staff, who field calls from the public and answer other inquiries while keeping all the department’s employees on schedule and on task. Employees like Project Engineer Ben Cofell work on designing, inspecting, and overseeing the City’s various water, sewer, and storm sewer projects.
If you’ve been to Rosehill Cemetery, you’ve seen the work of Rod Roteliuk’s staff members, like James Seifert, Cole Zietz, and Eileen Bean. The employees there are in charge of maintaining the cemetery, as well as preparing for funerals.
Josh Kraft’s sanitation crews, including
foreman Ray Neuhalfen and drivers like Shawn Danielson and Chris Simonson, pick
up your trash twice a week and deposit it at the City Landfill, where Allen
Shefstad, Lorne Hammer, and all the landfill workers make sure the trash is
disposed of safely and properly. And let’s not forget the department’s role in the
City’s two clean up weeks, when they go street-by-street and pick up piles of
stuff that’s been in our garages or yards for months. They also run two household
hazardous waste collection and E-waste collection events every year.
Kevin Sickler’s property maintenance employees, including Grant Heizelman and Eric Frazier, are responsible for maintaining the City of Minot’s numerous properties throughout the city, a tall task that includes not only all City owned buildings, but also things like the two downtown parking structures, and emergency warning sirens.
Where do we start with Kevin Braaten’s street crews? From removing snow on more than 1,200 lane miles to sweeping streets to repairing potholes to mowing City property and maintaining and operating flood control features such as closure structures and levee maintenance, employees like Zach Grant and Randy Dosch not only help maintain and repair our streets, they also play a large part in our two clean up weeks by joining sanitation crews in removing piles of unwanted stuff set out by Minot residents.
Ever wonder where storm water goes when it rains? Eventually it ends up in a series of ditches and underground pipe before finally making its way to one of the river or coulee systems in the city. Mark Espe and Michael Schraeder are just two of the people who maintain the City’s manholes, catch basins, storm water pumps, and more than 121.5 miles of pipes.
John Reynolds and his crew members in the water distribution and sewage pumping and treatment department, including employees like Sadie Maly, Brian Randash and many others, know all about dealing with various types of water and, you know, other stuff. They maintain more than 272 miles of sanitary sewer lines, more than 40 sanitary lift stations, 800 acres of lagoons and wetlands, and 322 miles of water distribution lines.
Our City transit buses are the responsibility of Brian Horinka and his staff, including Debbie Sigurdson and Joseph Cutaiar. From setting schedules, creating routes, and driving the buses, the transit staff deals with a wide variety of issues and concerns and provide a transit system that operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The City utilizes a variety of vehicles every day, from street sweepers to buses to mowers and everything in between, including Police Department vehicles that require the installation of specialized equipment. The vehicle maintenance staff, including Chris Willoughby and Jerry Johnson, is tasked with maintaining more than 750 types of vehicles and machinery, a job that changes by season, but never ends.
The theme for this year’s National Public Works Week could just as easily be describing our own Public Works Department. To all the crews and administrative staff members, we say thank you for your continued dedication to Minot and its residents. Our community is truly a better place to live, work, and play because of the work you do every day.