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Williston, ND, could have 44,000 by 2017


WILLISTON, N.D. -- Williston's booming population could be as high as nearly 44,000 people in 2017, according to a North Dakota State University study.

The population of Williams County could be as high as 70,000 in five years, according to analysis by the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics presented to city leaders this week. The projections are triple the population figures from the 2010 census.

The figures include permanent residents and temporary workers related to the region's oil boom.

Current estimates show that Williston has about 33,000 people, including both permanent residents and workers who have homes elsewhere, according to the NDSU study.

Williams County, including the city of Williston, is home to as many as 51,000 people, including those in crew camps and RVs.

"There's a lot of people in Williston and Williams County right now, perhaps more than people thought," said NDSU assistant research professor Nancy Hodur, who was asked by the city to develop projections.

Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said city leaders need population estimates, including the number of temporary residents, to plan how large to build a sewage treatment plant, how many police and city staff to add and other city services.

City leaders also wanted some population estimates they can present to legislators for requests for funding, Koeser said.

"Realistically, no one knows for sure," Koeser said of population projections.

"But we still think it's very important to try to plan."

The 2010 U.S. census put Williston's population at 14,716.