Water can’t come too soon: Water problems plague rural residents waiting for projectFor Lindsey Ostlie, any trip to town will likely include filling jugs with water for drinking. The water provided by the well on her farm contains minerals that make it undrinkable.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
RURAL WOODWORTH, N.D. —For Lindsey Ostlie, any trip to town will likely include filling jugs with water for drinking. The water provided by the well on her farm contains minerals that make it undrinkable.
Ostlie and many others are waiting for Stutsman Rural Water District’s service expansion that could occur yet this summer if funding can be secured. The $14 million project would provide water to the cities of Woodworth and Streeter as well as rural residences totaling about 750 locations.
It’s a project that can’t come soon enough for some.
“I hate this water,” said Donna Geske, resident of Glacier Township in northern Stutsman County, speaking of the well water on her farm. “It’s alkali, doesn’t taste good at all. Water softener leaves a salty taste. We have people test the water. They never call us back it’s so bad.”
In the meantime, the Geske home has a water softener that helps eliminate some of the mineral content. However, they haul all water used for drinking and cooking. Geske said the mineral content causes frequent problems including clogging filters and screens and problems with controls and valves in washers and dishwashers failing.
“Rural water would save us money just on repairs,” she said.
Ostlie said it’s a matter of reliability and quality.
“The distance from the well to the house is at least a mile of pipe,” she said. “We don’t drink the water. We had it tested for bacteria and it was OK but we didn’t have it tested for minerals because we knew we couldn’t drink it.”
Ostlie’s home includes a water system with an inline water filter and a water softener.
“I think it helps,” she said. “But it costs more and we still get mineral stains on our clothing.”
Ostlie estimates that her costs for filters, electricity for the well and pumps, salt for the softener and drinking water purchased in town exceeds $50 per month.
“Plus there is a lot of extra time put into managing our water,” she said. “When we first moved here it was overwhelming.”
A 2012 service expansion by Stutsman Rural Water District came within five miles of the Ostlie home. She hopes that the project can proceed in 2013.
“I won’t have to think about water anymore,” she said. “We won’t have to remember to pick up water, salt or filters and we won’t have the constant fear of something going wrong.”
Geske is also waiting for service from Rural Water although one of her farm sites may not be eligible. Stutsman Rural Water District regulations require distances of two miles or less between users.
“I have mixed feelings about that,” she said. “I can’t get it here because some of the neighbors don’t want it.”
Some rural residents have opted not to sign up for rural water because of the costs.
“If someone expresses an interest we ask for a $50 down payment to get on the map,” said Geneva Kaiser, manager of Stutsman Rural Water. “When the project is approved there is another $550 payment due.”
The monthly costs include a $45 minimum payment that does not include any water use. A charge of $4 per 1,000 gallons is added to the minimum. Kaiser estimates that the average rural water bill is about $71 per month.
Those fees buy quality and reliability, according to Steve Scarbrough, Woodworth mayor.
“We’re definitely looking forward to rural water,” he said. “Our well is OK and nobody really complains but this will be better quality water and more reliable. We won’t have to worry about things.”
The current planned service expansion of Stutsman Rural Water District will connect at the Woodworth water plant and provide service to the entire community through its existing municipal water lines.
“It will be more expensive but well worth it,” Scarbrough said. “In the end, it will be money saved in the city’s pockets. Our water plant is old and getting grants to keep it running is tougher.”
For some people seeking rural water, the process has taken years. Many hoped they would be included in the 2012 service expansion and are now waiting for the next phase.
“For a while I called Rural Water once a month,” Ostlie said. “I want it to happen. This state has this money now – if they delay the project you never know. It would make our quality of life better. It would bring us into the modern age.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com