Red River Valley Water Supply Project

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Tom ErdmannTom Erdmann’s involvement with the Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) seems inevitable when you look at the numerous connections throughout his life to the Project’s cosponsors, Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) and Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA).

“While attending NDSU and majoring in Ag Economics back in the early 1970s, I actually spent two summers working on the McClusky Canal as an oiler on a dragline and operated backhoe equipment. I have fished Lake Audubon, Lakes Brekken and Holmes north of Turtle Lake, and all of the Chain of Lakes south of Mercer and McClusky which are all part of the original Garrison Diversion project,” he says.

Tom recently retired from his 45-year career at Farm Credit Services, where he worked with farmers to develop irrigation from the McClusky Canal north of Turtle Lake. In addition, Tom’s wife Julee was an Administrative Assistant at the Garrison Diversion headquarters in Carrington for 40 years before retiring in 2018.

Tom fell into his LAWA Board of Directors position when he was elected Mayor of Carrington. Carrington’s previous Mayor, Neil Fandrich, had been serving on the LAWA Board representing Carrington and other small cities that had expressed interest in getting water from the RRVWSP. “When I was elected Mayor in June 2018, I inherited the Board position. At our September 2019 meeting, I accepted the nomination for another term on the LAWA Board and will continue to represent the smaller communities that want to benefit from the project,” says Tom.

One of the things he wishes more people understood about the RRVWP is that water from the Missouri River system is extremely important to the entire state of North Dakota. “The project is dedicated to providing excellent quality water to communities, rural water systems and for future industrial development in central and eastern North Dakota. It is also an insurance policy to guarantee a substantial water supply to these same areas in the event of a major drought,” he says.

“The fact that this is a state project which is being coordinated with federal agencies, local governments, municipalities and rural water systems, I believe we are looking out for our own best interest and ensuring our future generations an adequate water supply to promote continued development of our state. This project will protect our future by providing good living wage jobs and maintaining the quality of life that North Dakota continues to offer,” he explains.

As Mayor of Carrington, Tom is a strong supporter of Garrison Diversion because it provides a sound employment base with additional job opportunities for residents of Carrington and the surrounding area. “The Red River Valley Water Supply Project will enhance our employment base, add to our local economy, and bring people to our area to take full advantage of our excellent quality of life. Carrington’s partnership with Garrison Diversion, LAWA, and the RRVWSP has been and will continue to be a win-win outcome for Carrington and the State,” says Tom.

Tom’s connection to Carrington goes all the way back to his childhood, as he grew up on the family farm just north of Denhoff in Sheridan County and learned how to swim at the Carrington swimming pool since this was the closest pool at that time. Tom has been married to Julee for 43 years and the couple has two children, daughter Kayla and son Kyle, who still live in the area. Kyle and his wife, Chelsey, brought a grandson into the world. Baby Kade is quickly approaching his first birthday. 

Tom’s hobbies include fishing year-round, as well as hunting and golfing. Tom sums up his love for the town he’s lived in for 42 years by saying, “Carrington is a great place to work, live, and raise a family. It has exceeded my quality of life expectations. I also have a true passion for Carrington and the surrounding area as I continue to serve on our economic development boards and committees, with a goal of keeping central North Dakota the best place to work, live and raise a family.”