Red River Valley Water Supply Project

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The Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) reached an important milestone this fall. All of the legislative conditions related to the Project’s funding in the State Water Commission budget have been completed. The conditions in SB2020 include the following:

Alternative Selection – Complete
The RRVWSP alternative selection requirement is complete. The project’s design includes a transmission pipeline that will begin at the Missouri River and extend approximately 167 miles east to the Sheyenne River.

Water Supply Needs – Complete
To determine the RRVWSP demand projections, the project’s cosponsors, Garrison Diversion and Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA), secured 35 water nomination agreements from water users in central and eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota totaling 165 cfs. 

Projected Project Costs – Complete
The RRVWSP is estimated to cost a total of $1.19 billion. 

Easement Acquisitions – Complete
Garrison Diversion has secured 100% of the easements for Phase 1 construction which includes trenchless crossings. Easements or options have been secured on 99% of needed properties for Phase 2 construction, which is the initial 28-mile pipeline segment to be constructed. Overall, approximately 50% of easement options are secured on the entire pipeline corridor.

Environmental Regulation Compliance – Complete
The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality approved the project’s Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPDES) permit in early September.

Acquisition of State & Federal Permits – Complete
State and federal permits have been secured to move the project forward, including a Nationwide Permit 12 for an intake on the Missouri River from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Water Appropriations and Sovereign Lands Permits from the State Water Commission. In addition, a Highway Permit was received from the ND Department of Transportation to bore under U.S. Hwy 281.

Secure Water Source – Complete
Garrison Diversion and LAWA have secured a Nationwide 12 Permit for the RRVWSP to install a conventional intake on the Missouri River. The Bureau of Reclamation has approved up to 20 cfs and Garrison Diversion is working to gain access to an additional 145 cfs for the Project.  

Prioritize Phase 1 Construction Features – Complete
Project engineers have completed the final design for the intake wetwell, pipeline, and discharge structure.

Funding Options Recommended – Complete
A RRVWSP funding model has been developed in partnership with State and local users of the project.

Litigation Review – In Progress

SB2020 requires the State Water Commission review any appeals or lawsuits related to the RRVWSP, prior to disbursing state funds for the Project.

The State of Missouri initiated a lawsuit affecting the Central North Dakota Water Supply Project (CNDWSP) in February 2020. Because CNDWSP is simply an optional water source for part of the State Project, the litigation over the optional intake into the McClusky Canal will not halt or impact the State Project. If Missouri were successful in the lawsuit, it may delay or eliminate the opportunity to use the McClusky Canal as a water source, but it would not otherwise impact the State Project.
Phase 1 Construction Approval – Complete
The State Engineer and State Water Commission and Budget Section have certified that all sections in SB2020 Subsection 1 are complete. In October, project representatives will request funding from the 2019-2021 budget for the RRVWSP to be released.

Quarterly Progress Reports to Water Topics Committee – Ongoing
Members of the RRVWSP team have provided quarterly progress reports to the Water Topics Overview Committee, as required by SB2020.  The most recent update was provided on September 24, 2020. The project team will continue to provide quarterly updates on an ongoing basis. 

“We are happy to provide regular updates to the State Water Commission and the Water Topics Committee. This is truly a historic ‘mega project’ for the State of North Dakota,” says Duane DeKrey, Garrison Diversion General Manager. “Climatologists predict a 1930s-style drought will occur again before 2050. We need the project to be in place before the next big drought occurs. We are grateful to the State Water Commission and legislators who continue to understand the importance of this project.”

Garrison Diversion and LAWA are also preparing for North Dakota’s 2021 legislative session which begins in January 2021. Garrison Diversion and LAWA intend to request $50 million for the 2021-2023 biennium. The RRVWSP work plan includes planning, design, land acquisition, bidding, construction, and additional project elements.

“These are uncertain times, but what is certain when it comes to the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, is that we need to protect North Dakota from the cost of fighting a future drought that could have a $27 billion impact over a 10-year period,” says Merri Mooridian, Garrison Diversion Administration Officer and Deputy Program Manager of RRVWSP Administration.