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Lisa Anne Call, Forum Communications Co., Published August 23 2010

Water usage spike creates long lines

DICKINSON, N.D. – Sprawling lines of shimmering, silver water trucks have quickly become a common vision on Dickinson’s Broadway Street, with some trucks waiting hours to fill.

“We have had a spike in water usage at the water vendor in July,” said City Administrator Shawn Kessel at an Aug. 2 City Commission meeting. “We are well over a million gallons issued.”

After the last available water vendor in Killdeer reached its allotment of water sales in July, many water haulers have been traveling to Dickinson to fill.

Now, the long, monstrous trucks can often be seen roaring down Villard Street, heading out of town.

About 300 companies have access to purchase water, said Bill Fahlsing, Dickinson’s public information officer.

One big purchaser is Enid, Okla.-based Hamm & Phillips Service Co.

Barry Holm, a truck driver for Hamm & Phillips, said filling the 5,200-gallon tank usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the day.

Recently, his wait time was much longer.

“I sat here four hours, and I finally left and went over to Belfield and got a load of water, but I waited about an hour and a half over there,” Holm said.

Many drivers are feeling the ripple affects of increased oil activity.

“It’s totally crazy, totally crazy,” said Norm Haakenson, a lifelong Dickinson resident, who is also a driver for Hamm & Phillips.

Prior to the booming activity, Haakenson said he generally saw only one or two trucks; now “10, 12 trucks here is nothing.”

The city buys water from Southwest Water Authority at a contract rate of $3.17 per 1,000 gallons and presently charges $5 per 1,000 gallons. Soon, the fee will increase to $15 per 1,000 gallons.

Kessel said the fee increase would put Dickinson “on par with what that competition charges.”

New Town charges $25 per 1,000 gallons, and Mandaree charges $20 per 1,000 gallons.

“Some of the indications I’ve got from the field indicate that the price of water is escalating, and I think that $15 per thousand is too low,” said Dickinson Commissioner Rod Landblom. “I’d rather see something in the $20 to $25 per thousand gallons.”

Lisa Anne Call is a writer for The Dickinson Press