Creating its own monopoly

Somewhere along the line, the idea behind the Western Area Water Supply Authority has changed, and certainly not for the better.

The purpose of WAWS was to create a rural water system to provide infrastructure and water to cities in western North Dakota. The system would be at least partially funded by selling water to oil companies for fracking. That’s the theory behind WAWS, but that’s no longer the reality.

The state Senate passed SB 2359 during the legislative session, which essentially makes it illegal for private businesses to compete with the state-funded WAWS water depots in western North Dakota. The legislation says that after July 1, 2013, private businesses cannot sell water for industrial purposes within a 10-mile radius of any of the 12 state-approved water depots unless the firms already have facilities and state water permits in place.

In other words, the state is using its authority to prevent competition with state-supported WAWS facilities, and that’s simply wrong and an abuse of power.

We have no issue with the premise of WAWS, which was to provide water to communities having difficulty maintaining adequate municipal water supplies. And we have no problem with WAWS water depots selling water to oil industry firms for use in fracking. But passing legislation to eliminate the state’s competition is unacceptable. If the state is allowed to do this, where does the abuse of power end? Will the state get into other businesses and then enhance its business opportunities by eliminating the competition? The state should not be in the practice of helping create monopolies for itself. The Senate should be ashamed.