Williston, N.D., a city at the heart of the Bakken oil region, is experiencing population growth that is ten times the normal rate, according to a recent study commissioned by the city.
In order to determine how many people use its infrastructure and to project future needs, the city turned to Nancy Hodur, a researcher from North Dakota State University.
Hodur began the study in 2012 with the goal to project numbers through 2014. To accomplish this, she began with census data and then added the numbers from people living in hotels, crew camps, RV parks and other conditional use permitted housing. Hodur’s 2012 projections have held up well, with recent estimates indicating they are all within a 5 percent margin of error.
“We did pretty well," Hodur said. "That bodes very well and reinforces that if we do the hard work to dig out the primary data from the planning department, the city and the county, we can get a good handle on how many bodies — how many noses — are in the Williston area."
Between 2012 and 2014, Williston service population grew 20 percent from 25,915 to 31,143 and Williams County increased 19 percent from 44,308 to 52,778. This huge increase and far above average numbers of around 2 percent.
So far the city has been able to keep up with the increased service demands, but just barely. Public Works Director David Tuan said the wastewater plant is running at 2.5 million gallons a day in order to keep up with a demand of 2.4 million.
Infrastructure maintenance and improvements are a growing concern throughout the state as growing populations and oil equipment demands have taxed the current roadways and services.
Last month, Governor Dalrymple signed legislation that grants massive emergency funding to counties and cities statewide in order to bolster the lagging infrastructure. Williston will receive approximately $64 million of those dollars for improvements.
Read more at willistondevelopment.com