GRAND FORKS HERALD
WATFORD CITY, N.D.—The North Dakota oil boom turned black gold into green for public and private interests over its high-flying run.
But now, leaders in Oil Patch cities that invested hundreds of millions of dollars to cope with the crush of boom activity are focused on answering questions about how to pay off the red ink of high municipal debts while anticipating future spending needs.
“The thing to remember are the challenges that happened when smaller communities had to build out infrastructure at a pace that couldn’t be supported,” said Gene Veeder, a member of the McKenzie County Board of Commissioners and Watford City’s head of economic development. “The big 100-year projects were all built within like five years here.”
Veeder lists off new additions to the area that have been common installations in other Oil Patch communities—new high school, new wastewater treatment plant, new roads, new law enforcement center—all basic services required by a sudden crush of new residents seeking their fortunes in the oilfield. Veeder said Watford City alone went from a population of approximately 1,600 to 8,000, though he says “the initial onslaught was as much as 12,000.”