Fertilizer plant planned near Jamestown looking to Missouri River as possible water source

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JAMESTOWN, North Dakota — Developers of a $3 billion fertilizer plant planned near Jamestown can't rely on a local water source and are now looking west to the Missouri River.

Minnesota-based CHS Inc. has not been able to obtain water rights from aquifers around Jamestown because many of the rights have already been allocated, according to John Traeger, president of Cenex Pipeline LLC.

"We've been through a lot of scenarios looking for water, but we haven't found one we've been able to finalize," he said. "We're committed to the project. We just have to get a committed water source."

Officials considered changing the design of the plant to reduce its water needs but determined it would be more economical to build a pipeline from the Missouri, The Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1JmNeoo ). Developers are talking with Bismarck officials about buying water from the city's water treatment plant or leasing part of the capacity of the city's old water intake on the river, according to Keith Demke, director of utility operations for the city.

The old water intake serves as an emergency backup for the city. Its capacity is four times what the fertilizer plant would use, but there could be a water shortage if the city were forced to use the old intake when CHS is also using it, Demke said. A lease agreement could include a provision requiring the plant to reduce water withdrawals on those occasions, he said.

"We're going to look out for the interests of Bismarck's residents," Demke said.

CHS hopes to have the fertilizer factory open in 2018. It would turn natural gas from the western North Dakota oil patch into more than 2,400 tons per day of anhydrous ammonia.

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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