Representatives from the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) and the Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA) testified at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Senate Bill 2020 to request $50 million in funding for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP).
Dave Piepkorn, City of Fargo Deputy Mayor and Fargo City Commissioner, and Ken Vein, Vice-Chair of LAWA and Grand Forks City Commissioner presented on behalf of LAWA, while Jay Anderson, a Garrison Diversion board member from Ransom County and chair of the Red River Valley Committee, represented Garrison Diversion at the hearing. Garrison Diversion and LAWA are co-sponsors of the project.
The RRVWSP is a plan to safeguard water for North Dakota communities and rural water systems in times of drought, as well as promote industrial development. The project will use a buried water pipeline to carry water from the Missouri River along Highway 200 to the Sheyenne River to provide an emergency water supply to users in central and eastern North Dakota. Once completed, the project will serve approximately 50% of the state’s population.
“The City of Fargo draws its water from the Red River and Sheyenne River, making our water supply highly vulnerable to drought conditions,” says Piepkorn. “The City of Fargo cannot emphasize enough the need for an affordable, reliable water supply for the eastern and central parts of the state to keep our residents and industries safe during drought conditions.”
The state legislature is supportive of the RRVWSP, and in the last biennium awarded $30 million to the project. “Garrison Diversion has been diligently working to spend our 2017-2019 appropriation effectively and efficiently, and would like to continue the forward momentum of this important project,” says Anderson.
In order to keep the project moving forward, the supporters of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project are requesting $50 million to be included in the State Water Commission’s budget for the 2019-2021 biennium. The funds would allow for construction of a portion of the main transmission pipeline, land acquisition, and engineering and design work.
“We are very grateful for the State’s assistance with the project to this point,” says Vein. “But we need this project to continue pushing forward. To do that, $50 million is essential for this biennium to continue progress without stalling the project.”
The communities and water systems involved with the RRVWSP include the Cities of Carrington, Cooperstown, Devils Lake, East Grand Forks, Fargo which includes service to West Fargo, Forman, Grafton, Grand Forks, Hannaford, Hillsboro, Langdon, Larimore, Lisbon, Mayville, McVille, Park River, Tuttle, Valley City, and Wahpeton; as well as the Agassiz Water Users District, Barnes Rural Water District, Cass Rural Water Users District, Central Plains Water District, Dakota Rural Water District, Grand Forks-Traill Water District, Greater Ramsey Water District, McLean-Sheridan Rural Water, Northeast Regional Water District, Richland County Job Development Authority, South Central Regional Water District, Southeast Water Users District, Stutsman Rural Water District/Jamestown, Traill Rural Water Users, Inc., Tri-County Rural Water District, and Walsh Rural Water District.