All FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Rural Water Service

Click the following link, FAQ about Rural Water Service, to read frequently asked questions and other information about rural water service.


What is a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)?

Working under the regulations of the North Dakota Department of Health, an annual CCR is conducted that tests for all pertinent and potential sources of contaminants in our water supply.  This report provides full disclosure for customers or other interested parties about the quality of our drinking water.


Why should I read a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)?

A CCR contains a table of water quality data, definitions of terms, specific language requirements, and other source and treatment information to illustrate testing and compliance with all drinking water regulations established by the state and federal government. We hope you will find the information useful and educational so that you can be confident the quality water supplied to you by the Southwest Water Authority.


Where can I obtain CCR information?

These reports are posted on our website under the Consumer Confidence page. It is also mailed to customers annually.


Can large volume water customers distribute or post CCR’s to tenants, residents, patients, students, and/or employees?

Absolutely! In order to allow individuals who consume our drinking water, but who do not receive water bills to learn about our water system, we would appreciate it if our large volume water customers would post copies of the most recent annual CCR report in visible locations.


Who can I contact for additional questions about a CCR?

If you have any questions about this report, know of non-English speaking individuals who need assistance with translation, or have any other concerns, please contact us by calling 888-425-0241 or e-mail us at:


What is Fluoride?

Naturally found in water sources, Fluoride is derived from Fluorine, the thirteenth most common element in the Earth’s crust. Fluoride compounds are salts that form when the element, Fluorine, combines with minerals in soil or rocks.


Uses of Fluoride.

The Southwest Water Authority adds Fluoride to the drinking water to help prevent tooth decay and promote dental health.


Does SWA optimize the amount of Fluoride put into our water?

Yes, that is something SWA takes very seriously. Also, the North Dakota Department of Health continues to recognize SWA with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Water Fluoridation Quality Award.


Does Fluoride also help prevent tooth decay for infants?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The proper amount of fluoride from infancy through old age helps prevent and control tooth decay. Community water fluoridation is a widely accepted practice for preventing and controlling tooth decay by adjusting the concentration of fluoride in the public water supply.” Read more:


Is the amount of Fluoride in drinking water regulated?

Yes, the amount of Fluoride used in your drinking water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can read more by going to or reviewing SWA’s Water Quality Report Consumer Confidence Report – (CCR).


How does Fluoride combat tooth decay?

Fluoride prevents the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving tooth enamel, which is the hard and shiny substance that protects the teeth. Fluoride also allows teeth damaged by acid to repair themselves.


Can Fluoride repair cavities?

Unfortunately, Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and thus prevent new cavities from forming.


Where did adding Fluoride to water come from?

The story of how dental science discovered and ultimately proved to the world that fluoride prevent tooth decay can be found on the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s website:


What is an “easement” and why is it important?

An easement is a legal and specific right to use the real property of another without possessing it. In this case, easements are necessary in order to provide a pathway across two or more pieces of property to cost-effectively bring new water service to an area. An easement is considered as a property right in itself at common law and is still treated as a type of property in most jurisdictions.


Why are easements important for a community?

In order for the Southwest Water Authority (SWA) to cost-effectively expand its infrastructure and provide water service to new customers, we must first obtain easement permission from the landowner. SWA is working on easement acquisition now in several rural communities. If you have received an easement request, please get it signed, notarized and returned to our office. The easements are required in before SWA can include you for future water service.


Why does the SWPP need an easement from me?

The proposed route of the pipeline tries to keep road crossings to a minimum and avoid physical barriers such as trees, creeks or hills. The location of other customers also affects the route of the pipeline.


What if I do not sign an easement?

Routing is done in order to construct the pipeline cost effectively. Going around your property increases the cost of construction. If you refuse to sign the easement, Project engineers will try another route. If another route is not viable, your neighbors may not be able to receive water service. If you refuse to sign an easement, and later want water, you would be responsible for the costs incurred by the SWPP in order to reroute the pipeline around your property. If there is no other route, the Project has the right of eminent domain but would prefer not to use it.


My neighbor was paid for an easement for the Southwest Pipeline Project (SWPP), why are you asking for a donated easement?

Main transmission lines are the source of the distribution system and provide water to the cities; the State Water commission (SWC) pays for easements for main transmission lines. Without main transmission lines, rural lines would not be possible. The SWPP has a set maximum amount that can be spent to provide service to a single customer, otherwise known as the cost per Estimated Service Unit (ESU). Because the cost to deliver water to the customer is regulated, paying for easements would increase the cost per ESU and many customers would not receive service. Therefore, it is essential that donated easements for the rural area are obtained to provide maximum coverage within the cost limitations. Landowners who have provided the SWPP with a donated easement are eligible to receive a reduction in hookup fees on any rural water hookup provided that the easement obtained provided service to other customers. In not paying for easements, the SWPP continues the tradition of more than 22 rural water systems now operating in North Dakota who do not pay for easements.


What will the SWPP pay for damages, if there are any?

While the SWPP is asking for a donated easement, it is not the intent of the SWPP to cause a financial burden to landowners. If damages occurred to crops or hay land during the construction phase, call the State Water Commission at 800-889-1019. Any other damages will be negotiated by contacting the SWA office at 701-255-0241 or toll free at 888-425-0241.


What are the current fees for new customers to be hooked up to SWA service?

You will find this year’s hookup fees with explanation of costs located under here.


Must I pay the cost of my own hookup?

Yes, you are responsible for that portion between your residence and the meter pit. Attached is an illustration of the meter assembly components.


Will the Southwest Water Authority make arrangements for your hookup?

No, you are responsible for making your own arrangements. You may make your own hookup, hire a licensed water and sewer installer, hire a licensed plumber, or any combination of the afore mentioned. Upon request, we will supply a listing of licensed water and sewer contractors and licensed plumbers.


Does my household plumbing require inspection?

All homes built after July 1, 1995 must be inspected by an inspector representing the North Dakota State Plumbing Board or the local administrative authority that issues a plumbing permit. For further information, contact the State Plumbing Board at 701-328-9977. This information should answer your questions concerning your individual billing and hookup. If not, please feel free to contact our office. Remember, it is extremely important that the user and/or installer be familiar with Southwest Water Authority installation requirements before proceeding with installation.


Will tying into the Southwest Water Authority system affect my existing plumbing?

Our system will provide for a pressure of 45 psi in most cases. If your present system is less that 45 psi, it is possible that some of your existing piping may leak. However, most systems should be able to handle the 45 psi we are providing. Also, if you are removing your in-line pressure tank, make sure your hot water heater is protected for expansion. The State Plumbing Code requires that provisions must be made for hot water expansion. Consult with your plumber for specific needs as they apply to your system. Hot water expands and if no provisions are made for this condition, they can explode.


May I continue to use my existing well?

Yes, however, this use must not be tied into the Southwest Water Authority’s water system. In other words, there must a be a physical disconnect between your existing water source and the Southwest Water Authority source. Failure to do so would be a violation of the Southwest Water Authority’s Rules and Regulations.


What is a cross connection?

A cross connection is any connection to a water source which could possibly cause contamination to that water source. Normally this condition exists when pressure in the system is lost and water is allowed to siphon back into the system. An example of a cross connection would be a submerged hose filling a tank. If a failure in the system causes loss of pressure in the system, the water in the tank would siphon back into the distribution system. Since this is a public system, it would not only affect your system, but the public’s as well. Cross connections are also a violation of the Southwest Water Authority’s Rules and Regulations. It is extremely important that each customer check their system to make sure a cross connection does not exist because a pressure drop in our system could create a very serious contamination problem. Even though we have backflow preventers, they are mechanical and subject to failure.


How do we activate our water service?

There are 8 steps you must take in order to be connected.

  1. Water Customer Information and Agreement Form (Return to SWA)
  2. Connection Fee (Check or Money Order Payable to SWA)
  3. Subsequent User Installer Approval Form (Return to SWA)
  4. Your Connection Location Marked on the Enclosed Map
  5. Initialed Acknowledgement of Your First Water Bill Due Date

Once you return all of the above documentation, SWA will conduct a hydraulic study to determine the water pressure for your installation. Only 3 STEPS are left:

  1. Hire A Qualified Installer
  2. Your Installer Completes Verification Of Rural Water Service Connection Form
  3. Return Form Before/When Your Water Is Turned On


After we take all the steps to get connected, how long does it take for the water to be turned on?

Once your install is completed, you will need to allow for a 24-48 hour notice for your water service to be turned on.


Who will turn on my water?

A staff member of the Southwest Water Authority will make arrangements to turn on your water. A minimum 24-hour notification during normal working hours is required. Please notify the Southwest Water Authority office by calling 701-225-0241 or toll free 888-425-0241. Depending on the workload, the maximum notification requirement is 72 hours.


Once we are connected, why can’t we turn on our own water?

For health, safety, and legal reasons, ONLY an authorized SWA representative can turn on your water. It is your responsibility to acquire all easements, permits, installation costs, or any other incidental expenses needed to complete or maintain your home’s service line connection to the water pipeline.


What if my water service is permanently disconnected?

Once water service is permanently disconnected, it can only be restored after unpaid minimums, expenses incurred in the collection of past due amounts and a reconnect charge are paid; or a new hookup fee is paid; whichever is less. The cost to reconnect service will never be more than a new hookup fee. A new hydraulic study may be required.


What are the charges to reconnect service if my account becomes delinquent and water service is disconnected?

Payment will be made in full prior to reconnection. Service can be restored provided water capacity is still available. Payment shall include the accumulated monthly minimum bills since the date service was disconnected, any requested deposits, any unpaid water usage, and a service charge. Total charges will not exceed the current hookup fee.


Where will the meter be located?

Ordinarily, the meter would be located in the customer’s basement. If there is no basement, or other suitable frost-free environment, the SWPP will provide the customer with a meter pit. An existing well pit may be used if it passes inspection and is approved by the SWPP. Pipeline water and well water cannot be used simultaneously through the same water lines.


How is the pipeline going to be built?

Contractors may use a backhoe, trencher, or plow to install the pipeline.


Will any pipe be above ground?

It is possible that the SWPP may ask to place an air vent, valve box, or other appurtenance on your property. To the extent possible, the SWPP will place appurtenances so that they are not an obstacle to farming or ranching operations.


Where will the pipeline be located on my property?

The SWPP tries to keep the pipeline as close to the edge of the property as possible. State law requires utilities to be located 75 feet from county road center lines and 100 feet from state highway center lines.


May I or my plumber adjust my pressure reducing valve?

Absolutely not, this is not only a violation of the Southwest Water Authority’s Rules and Regulations but could also cause damage to your interior plumbing. This would be considered system tampering and subject to permanent termination of service.


Can swing valves be used between existing and the Southwest Water Authority system?

No, swing valves are not permitted by either the State Plumbing Board or Health Department. This would also be a violation of the Southwest Water Authority’s Rules and Regulations.


What is required for installation of rural water service?

For your protection, the plumbing code requires an expansion tank be installed. The State Plumbing Board requires a minimum of 160 psi pipe on new lines installed to meet their requirements. The State Plumbing board does allow you to use your existing lines even though they may be rated at something less than 160 psi, however, you are cautioned that your old lines may not be able to handle our pressure which may be as high as 120 psi. This is especially important for those who chose a curb stop installation. Should our line pressure exceed 80 psi, it is recommended that you replace your existing lines if they are not rated for at least 160 psi. Your plumber should be able to assist you in making this determination. It is much less concerning for those who chose meter pit installations because the pressure reducing valve reduces pressure to 45 psi. Should you choose to tie into your existing water lines, please note that you did so on your verification form. Also, please note the pressure rating of your existing lines if known.


If I do sign up for rural water service, how much will my bill be?

The current monthly minimum is $49.00 for a standard hookup. The cost of the water is $6.26 per 1,000 gallons. Monthly minimums begin when the water is available to the customer, whether the water is used or not. Visit our rate page for more information.


If I do sign up for rural water service, how close will you come with the water line?

The SWPP will bring the waterline to a point convenient to the SWA and the customer, at or near the edge of the yard. At that point, a curb stop or meter pit will be installed. Connections after the curb stop or meter pit are the responsibility of the customer. The SWPP will furnish a water meter.


What should I do if I am not going to be using rural water or if I am going to be gone for three or four months and cannot read my meter?

For those consumers who expect to be away from their water service location for three or four months at a time (such as over the winter months), we ask that you please notify our office and arrangements can be made to prepay the monthly minimum bills and turn the water off until you return.


How much water will I use monthly?

An average family of four will use between 5,000 and 6,000 gallons for household use. Usage will vary dependent upon your individual needs.


What is the difference between a licensed water and sewer contractor and a licensed plumber?

A licensed water and sewer contractor may install your service line up to the first joint inside your residence.


What could cause my water consumption to be higher than usual?

First, check for a possible leak inside your home. The most common causes of leaks are dripping faucets or toilets. You can get toilet tank leak detector tablets or place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking. If your toilet is not leaking, the next most likely reason may be an outside leak or lack of efficient water use, possibly outside irrigation. The best way to determine if your irrigation system is leaking is by looking at your lawn. If you notice wet spots or pooling of water around your spray heads, this is a good indication that your irrigation system has a leak. If you have a layout of your irrigation system, start tracking the lines to determine the exact location.


How will a water leak affect my water bill?

An undetected or unrepaired water leak can lose thousands of gallons each month which can be very costly. For example:

  • 1/32” drip can waste 6,166 gallons per month.
  • 1/16” trickle can waste 24,666 gallons per month.
  • 1/8” stream can waste 98,666 gallons per month.
  • 1/4” stream can waste 393,833 gallons per month.


What should I do if I think my meter is reading incorrectly?

Water meters very seldom register fast, however if you feel there may be a problem, call us at our office as soon as possible. We may be able to explain the problem or aid in detection of possible leaks in your household plumbing. We can also send an operator to check your meter.


If I suspect a leak, how do I confirm it?

If you suspect a leak, the easiest way to confirm it is to check the reading on your meter by taking the following steps:

  1. Make sure all faucets and water-using appliances, inside and out, are turned off. Leave the master valve open.
  2. Check the reading on your meter. Your water meter is located in the basement or in some of the older homes it may be located outside in a meter pit. There is a small dial, which moves clockwise.
  3. If there is no water being used inside or outside the home and the meter continues to move or “creep” it is often indicative of a leak or drip somewhere in your home’s water system.


If I have a confirmed leak in my home, what should I do?

You will first want to shut off the water source to stop the leakage. While repairing most in-home leaks is actually very easy, such as a toilet, you might want to consult with a licensed and insured plumber/contractor. During normal office hours, you can call our office in Dickinson at 701-225-0241 or call toll free 1-888-425-0241. After hours we have an answering machine that will give the number of the on-call operator’s pager.


Do you have more information on water leaks?

Yes, there is a very informative video located on our Videos page. It was produced by the American Water Works Association called “Detecting and Silencing Leaks” and should answer most of your questions.


Does SWA offer automatic bill pay?

Yes! The Southwest Water Authority offers an Automatic Payment Plan. You can have your payment made automatically from your checking or savings account. There is no check to write, no payment to mail, no more late charges, no more forgetting to pay and Automatic Payment Plan is FREE! This may also be convenient for people who leave for the winter months or long periods of time.


How does the automatic payment plan work?

The Automatic Payment Plan lets your financial institution do all the work. Each month the amount due on your Southwest Water Authority bill is automatically deducted from your designated bank account on the 20th of the month. The proof of payment will appear on your monthly bank statement. It will still be important that you call the Southwest Water Authority with your meter reading monthly or send it in.


How do I sign up for the automatic payment plan?

It is very simple to sign up. Complete the Authorization Form and return it to the Southwest Water Authority. Please attach a blank check marked “VOID”.  This will be used to record the bank information necessary to process the payments. You can designate a checking or savings account. Make sure the signatures match bank records.


How long does it take for automatic payment plan to go into effect?

The Automatic Payment Plan will usually take one month to implement. A note indicating this will appear on your water billing statement. Please continue to pay your bill as usual until you see this confirmation note on your water bill.


Does SWA take credit cards?

Yes, we now take credit cards with a nominal service fee per transaction. You will want to set up an account should you chose to be able pay online.


How is the Southwest Water Authority governed?

The Southwest Water Authority is governed by an elected 15-member board of directors representing the following communities: Adams County, Billings County, Bowman County, Dunn County, Golden Valley County, Grant County, Hettinger County, Mercer County, Morton County, Oliver County, Slope County, Stark County, City of Dickinson (2 members), and City of Mandan.


How can I contact my SWA board member representative?

You can click here for a listing of all board members and their email address.


Are your Board Meetings open to the public?

Yes. The public is always welcome to attend any of our regularly scheduled meetings, which are generally held on the first Monday of each month. If you are interested in attending or would like to request agenda details, please contact us for information on the meeting time and location.


What are SWA’s Rules & Regulations?

The current version of the Rules & Regulations can be viewed by clicking here.