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General city picture of Napoleon, ND

Napoleon’s Infrastructure Revival

In the heart of rural North Dakota, the City of Napoleon is a testament to the resilient spirit of small-town America. With a close-knit community of nearly 800 residents, Napoleon embodies the heartland’s enduring agricultural charm. Yet, beneath the surface, the city faced a silent crisis that threatened its very foundation. 

When working properly, infrastructure silently underpins our daily lives. When it fails, it screams for attention. The infrastructure challenges that faced the city are mirrored in many communities across the state. After boiling over in 2019, the issues in Napoleon could no longer be ignored by its residents.

Decades of Challenges

For years, the City of Napoleon waged a silent battle against its aging sanitary sewer system. Originally installed in the 1940s, the system relied on a network of aging clay tile pipes. Surviving well into the 21st century meant it had surpassed its expected lifespan. Cracks, offsets, and even missing pieces within the system caused severe groundwater infiltration and inflow issues. The EPA described the issue as “excessive.” To fight back, the city’s primary sanitary lift station had to run 24/7, creating economic stress for the community. 

In 2019, the situation reached a tipping point. A pipe collapsed, creating a sinkhole in a residential street, posing an environmental risk to the area. Many homes in the area experienced sewer backups, requiring residential sump pumps to discharge water into the streets and onto grassy lawns. 

The investigation further revealed that manholes were clogged, exposed bare earth, and in otherwise dire condition. Damages caused by the pipe breakage totaled over $100,000. It was after this event that Mayor Todd Moos said, “This groundwater is destroying our town.”

Desperate for a sustainable, cost-effective, and long-term solution, Napoleon tasked Moore Engineering to study and tackle the challenge. With 60+ years of experience in the region, Moore Engineering’s team of engineers and scientists was up to the task.


A Comprehensive Solution

Gathering information is critical to successfully planning any project. For an undertaking of this complexity, conducting a thorough study of the system’s current infrastructure was especially important. Moore Engineering began with a detailed review of all records available about the existing system, including a review of the age of sanitary sewer mains, an analysis of lift station pumping records, and a study of historical groundwater reports.

After an initial study, Moore Engineering realized that the combination of sandy soils, high groundwater table, and high groundwater infiltration caused major complications that could not be ignored. The existing sanitary sewer system was inadvertently acting as a drain tile system. Sealing the sanitary sewer could have substantial groundwater impacts on homeowners. Thankfully, Moore Engineering has decades of experience solving similar issues for clients.

Moore Engineering created a unique plan to address sanitary sewer deficiencies. Our team incorporated a storm sewer system and a sub-surface drain tile and replaced the community’s storm pumping system. The project required a multifaceted solution. 2,500 feet of PVC pipe, was used to replace the outdated clay-tile sewer main. Additionally, 800 feet of ditch was constructed to improve stormwater management. A new gravity outlet was built, allowing the old stormwater pumping station to be decommissioned permanently.

After its completion on July 3, 2023, the project’s impact was felt immediately. Because of Moore Engineering’s work, the sanitary sewer lift station’s run time is down, maintenance crews no longer regularly clean sanitary sewers, sump pumps no longer flood the streets, and public walkways and intersections now meet accessibility standards. 

Keeping the Public In the Loop

City Engineers, council members, and planners all have the same mission: to serve the people who live and work in their community. Because every infrastructure project is for the public good, keeping the public informed is critical. That’s why we partnered with the City of Napoleon to host a public meeting before applying for funding and again before construction. Our team of engineers then gave monthly updates at City Council meetings and kept a representative on-site at all times. We even taught residents how to care for newly planted grass on their lawns.

Unlocking $3M in Funding

At Moore Engineering, we believe that being a good engineering partner goes beyond solving problems with clever infrastructure designs. That’s why we have invested in services to reduce the cost burden of taxpayers. 

After finalizing the project’s scope, Moore Engineering helped Napoleon apply for funds to cover the project’s $4.3M price tag. Our team of funding specialists helped secure $3.41M in grant funding. The additional $890,000 was provided through government-subsidized low-interest loans. Together, these funds lifted a massive economic weight from the shoulders of Napoleon’s residents. 

Moore Engineering’s success in helping Napoleon secure funding is nothing new. Our team of specialists has helped clients fund over 125 projects with more than $270M since 2018. 

The Mission

At Moore Engineering, our mission is to “Improve lives by building strong communities.” As Napoleon looks to the future, it does so with a stronger and more reliable water infrastructure system. The project’s long-term success is thanks to the dedication and expertise of Moore Engineering’s engineers and scientists. This project serves as a blueprint for other communities facing similar challenges, showcasing the importance of proactive planning, community involvement, and expert engineering in building a more resilient and sustainable world.

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