Grand Forks City Council OKs water agreement for proposed fertilizer plant

A firm’s proposal to build a $1.5 billion fertilizer plant near Grand Forks jumped its first hurdle Monday at a City Council meeting.

The Grand Forks City Council approved an agreement with Northern Plains Nitrogen that seeks to establish a wastewater use agreement with the city. The plant would require 7.7 million gallons of water a day to operate. About 6.8 million of those gallons would come from the city’s wastewater.

Grand Forks now must begin a process to secure or amend water discharge permits from state agencies to accommodate the arrangement

“The next year and a half is going to go by pretty quick,” Public Works Director Todd Feland said of getting everything arranged before the plant’s anticipated 2015 construction start.

About $80,000 also will be provided by the city to cover expenses involved in the permit process.

The plant’s presence near Grand Forks, about five miles outside the city limits, led some council members to ask that the process focus on safety concerns.

“At the press conference last week … it was like Christmas in May,” council member Bret Weber said. “Now it seems we just need to take care of these steps to open our gift. We need to be sure we don’t put our joy over due diligence.”

Feland said his department is approaching the project as objectively as it can and will be reporting its findings to city staff and the council.

Map depicting proposed site of Northern Plains Nitrogen’s $1.5 billion fertilizer plant.

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