ND's oil boom is turning water into big businessFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There's plenty of oil in North Dakota, but getting to it takes another resource. Oil land is so dense; the best way to recover oil is blasting a water sand mix into the ground. More on how that is turning water into big business.
By: Todd Kurtz, WDAY
Loren Hoffman has seen water revive a town.
"Parshall was really slipping and I remember thinking in 2006 I don't think we can save it. I think we're going to go."
Parshall is a small town of 1 thousand people just miles from Lake Sakakawea. Its annual budget was around 100 thousand dollars, now it has an annual income of 2.5 million dollars.
When oil rigs started popping up near Parshall, water was in high demand. Hoffman at the time was the town’s auditor. He put a price tag on the water. Soon after making some money, the town invested it in a bulk water facility, pumping water from Sakakawea and selling it to the oil companies.
"The people in the oil industry never complained about the price of water. The only thing they complained about is there isn't enough water."
Hoffman now works for Advanced Engineering, and has his eyes on much larger money maker. It's a 200 million dollar project and consists of upgrading Williston's water treatment facility to pump more water, then putting in underground water pipes throughout western North Dakota to get water to the fields faster and more efficiently.
"All of these areas are experiencing the same thing that Parshall is going through. The oil companies are looking for water anywhere they can get it."
The technology to recover oil in North Dakota has turned water into gold. The project could generate up to one billion dollars in revenue over ten years.
Fargo leaders see the underground water pipes as a great long term investment and feel it's something our area could dive into.
The engineering group will negotiate with the state to fund the project. Commissioner Mike Williams supports it. He says the pipes could go in the eastern part of the state, maybe even pump water to other states. Arizona and Colorado are already searching for fresh water.
“Prior to that, we need to make sure that we're utilizing our water resource. 95 percent of our fresh water is in Lake Sakakawea so we need to work together to distribute that fresh water across the state.”
For more information, go to www.cityofFargo.com.