Mandan received a $3.1 million grant from the North Dakota State Water Commission to help with the city’s water infrastructure needs.

The grant will be used to fund a portion of a 30-inch water transmission line replacement. The commission also extended an existing grant for planning of a new water intake.

“Both projects were recommended and approved for funding by the State Water Commission because of two key factors,” said Garland Erbele, North Dakota's state engineer. “The first factor is related to Mandan’s recent population growth. In addition to that challenge, the commission weighed the potential impacts to the water system from ongoing intake complications, which could be quite serious.”

Total cost of the project is $5.6 million.

“Obviously, any little bit helps,” said Jim Neubauer, Mandan city administrator.

The state grant also prevents the city from having to pass the total cost of the project on to ratepayers.

“There’s only so much the (water) rate should go up per year and remain competitive,” Neubauer said.

The new water line will replace 9,145 feet of about 40-year-old pipe connecting the water treatment plant and a reservoir on Old Red Trail.

"This pipeline is a very important piece of infrastructure providing water to northwest Mandan and serving commercial, industrial and residential customers. Without this important infrastructure component in operation, users could be subject to water shortages, low pressure and inadequate fire protection," Jasper Klein, operations manager of AE2S, told the Mandan City Commission in February.

The city keeps a list of critical projects that it tries to complete as funds become available. This line was on the list when a couple of breaks over the past two years, costing the city more than $500,000 to repair, made it an even higher priority.

In 1994, the city experienced pipe failures and an investigation found both internal and external corrosion, according to Klein.

The city plans to issue a request for bids June 29, with construction of the project to start in September with completion slated for October 2019.

Problems with the city’s water intake have been developing as the Missouri River channel moved gradually from the west bank to the east bank.

The 2011 flood changed at least one thing for the better — it moved the river channel farther west, allowing Mandan to continue with its current intake for a while. But that change would be permanent. The channel is moving back east, returning Mandan to its same situation, looking for a new intake location.

Work on the concept and rough numbers for the water intake have been started. This grant extension will allow start of the design phase.

“The river migrated back and kicked us back into gear,” Neubauer said.

City officials plan to submit another funding request to the Water Commission as cost estimates are firmed up. Bidding on the project could begin in May 2019 and construction could last through 2020.

The water intake is just one of a number of major projects facing Mandan in the years to come. Other big lifts for the city include a new levee on the Heart River and repaving of the “Strip.”

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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