WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 19, 2010, 08:22 AM

Running with Oil: Boom town swamped with sewage

Stanley, ND (WDAY TV) - There is highs and lows to the oil boom in Western North Dakota. Millions of dollars are rolling into the state's treasury. Jobs in the patch are plentiful, but with that many workers in our rural part of the state, one of the biggest problems is the sound of a "flush."

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Tonight, from the heart of the oil patch in Stanley, North Dakota, WDAY 6 Reporter Kevin Wallevand and Photographer Chad Nelson have more in our series, "Running with Oil."

Sure there is housing shortage around Stanely. Apartments and motels yet to go up and worn-out, tired roads plague the cash strapped cities and counties. But this is nothing.

“It happened so fast.”

Not the number one problem. The number one problem is actually number two. Russ Nichols is back at one of the oil company man camps near Stanley. He works for Gustafson Septic Service which has been hitting makeshift oil worker camps to collect sewage.

“We have two people on call all the time.”

“When this first started, we tried to be everything for everybody for the oil companies and stuff and we have turned out we can't be that.

That's the mayor of Stanely, smack dab in oil country. The two cell lagoon.

“We can't do it anymore. We simply can't.”

It is not so much the sewage coming from people here in Stanley, but the hundreds of porta potties coming from thousands of oil workers in Mountrail County.

“We are going to shut off incoming trucks.”

And so right now, Stanley has stopped taking sewage from the oil workers who have swamped the area.

“That is not going to happen anymore.”

Expanding the lagoon is not an option.

“The city has no money for infrastructure work. The state constitution limits what the city can borrow and we are there.”

And the sticking point, North Dakota, rolling in oil revenue, millions a month coming from Stanley and Mountrail County alone, and now this small town paying a price for an oil boom.

“The state is doing really well and we are financing it and it is a bit of an issue. You might say a sore spot.”

And to borrow money and build up a town is a risk.

“We can't jeopardize our town.”

During the last two years, the small town of Stanley has spent nearly 3-million dollars re-doing sewer, water, and streets downtown.