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By Caroline Downs
One of the keys to the future of the proposed 5Stone Ranch development at Berthold, with 300 houses planned for Phase I and up to 2000 homes to be built through the next five years on land along ND 28, is wastewater management.
Vince Vander Top, civil engineer with Wenck Associates based in Maple Plain, MN, has been considering that issue since his first visit to Berthold, and he discussed possible solutions with an audience of nearly two dozen people attending an informational meeting about the 5Stone project in Berthold January 30th.
“The city’s lagoon system is at capacity,” he said, “and we’ve been talking to the state of North Dakota regarding what’s permitable.”
He continued, “The existing lagoon system is a three-cell system, with a surface area of just over seven acres. If we duplicate this capacity, we would have the capacity for another 200 to 250 homes.”
Vander Top noted that undeveloped property surrounding Berthold’s lagoon could provide space for such an expansion.
Because the development may grow to 2000 homes, Vander Top said 5Stone has started creating a master wastewater collection and treatment plan, with four potential wastewater treatment pond locations identified north and east of Berthold. “For 2000 homes, we would need 130 acres for a lagoon system,” he said.
He has also been considering the topography of the development site in order to locate two master lift stations.
He emphasized all work on the master wastewater plan was in the early draft stages, with no firm recommendations at this point. “But what would make sense is to go ahead with the first phase of expanding the city lagoon on a limited basis,” he said. “Then, if the development moves forward, we would look at siting a new wastewater treatment system somewhere in the township.”
Vander Top briefly spoke of other options under consideration, including a mechanical wastewater treatment plant that would discharge treated effluent. “Storage would still be needed for the treatment plant,” he said.
Another alternative would be to contract the sale of discharged water for use in hydraulic fracturing operations in the Bakken oilfield. “That option may be limited,” he said, “and whatever solution is chosen, we’re going to need some storage and some acreage.”
He repeated the interest in the first phase of development and the expansion of the city’s lagoon system. “We would look at something on the order of 30 acres around the current city site,” he said, adding that the expanded lagoon would be required to meet the same state standards as it does now.
Berthold mayor Alan Lee asked about funding the project, which would be beyond the scope of the city. “That would be 5Stone’s expense,” said Alex Gregg, a partner in 5Stone Development. “There are some grant monies available, and that’s where we would need help from the township and the city.”
Gregg said he had visited with officials in Bismarck regarding application for the oil impact funds appropriated by the state legislature for infrastructure, transportation, emergency services and other projects in the oil-producing counties. “We know our project fits the criteria,” he said.
Gregg asked Berthold city council members and Berthold township officers for a level of commitment toward the proposed development, with the intention of beginning on the city lagoon expansion project and construction of the Phase I homes as soon as possible.
The Berthold City Council will discuss the 5Stone Ranch project further at its February meeting, which was rescheduled for Monday, February 13th, beginning at 7:30 pm at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend all city council meetings.