Red River Valley Water Supply Project

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Check out this video featuring the speakers at the historic Red River Valley Water Supply Project groundbreaking, pipe signing, and construction crews expertly lowering the first pipe into the ground.
During a groundbreaking ceremony, construction crews placed the very first length of pipe that will deliver emergency and supplemental water from the Missouri River in central North Dakota to the Red River Valley in the east. The Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) is a drought mitigation project that’s more than 20 years in the making.
“Water is the lifeblood. I look over at those serving on Garrison Conservancy District. You had a vision. You stayed the course. You never quit believing. I appreciate that,” said State Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner. The idea of perseverance was echoed by Rep. Jim Schmidt, Water Topics Overview Committee Chairman, who said “My applause goes to the Conservancy District for hanging in there, especially the staff who’ve been doing the work, because it’s been quite an effort on their part.”
The project’s co-sponsors, Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) and Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA) hosted the celebration on August 3 at a construction site one mile south of Carrington on Highway 281, in the middle of a drought-parched field.
North Dakota’s new Department of Water Resources Director, Andrea Travnicek, spoke about her involvement in the project at the federal and state levels, including working with three governors on the RRVWSP. “I’m really excited this is a state project. I think that’s what continues to move this project forward. The fact that it’s going to serve half of the population of North Dakota to make sure we’ve got permanent water for our industries, water supply to our individuals, our residents, our communities. It’s very significant,” Travnicek said.
More than 100 people gathered to sign the 72″ pipe and witness it placed into the ground. “The first pipe installed on the Red River Valley Water Supply project represents freedom from the effects of devasting droughts for communities and rural water systems from central North Dakota to the eastern side of the state,” said Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.
The Lieutenant Governor also discussed how oil activity in the western part of the state helps make water projects like the RRVWSP possible. “Because of our oil activity and the tax revenues we’re blessed with from oil, we’re the only state that can turn oil into water,” he said referencing the Resources Trust Fund which is funded by the state’s oil tax revenue.
When completed, the RRVWSP’s buried pipeline will stretch approximately 165 miles, beginning near Washburn and delivering water east along the Highway 200 corridor to cities and rural water systems to the east.
“It is fantastic to see the results of decades of planning come to fruition. I thank all of the proactive minds who played a part in making the Red River Valley Water Supply Project possible. The project will protect the people of the Red River Valley from the impact of prolonged and otherwise devastating drought. This multi-generational infrastructure is a massive leap forward for both regional climate resiliency and economic security,” said Dr. Tim Mahoney, LAWA Chairman and Fargo Mayor.
When construction is completed, the RRVWSP will benefit nearly 50% of North Dakota’s population. Water from the project can be used for municipal use and industrial development, in addition to providing an emergency water supply during droughts. As of September (insert date before publishing), the North Dakota Drought Monitor lists the entire state as experiencing moderate, severe, or extreme drought conditions.
“The widespread drought we’re going through currently serves as a reminder for what this pipeline is being built for. Here we are with the levels on the ponds, lakes, and rivers that I haven’t seen in 20 years of coming down here for Garrison Diversion meetings. I’ve never seen the James River as dry as it is when you cross it,” said Alan Walter, Garrison Diversion Board Chairman.
“We don’t know how long the current drought conditions will last. People could walk across the Red River during the 1930s Dust Bowl. When the Red River Valley Water Supply Project is constructed, participating cities and rural water systems along the pipeline will have a safeguard during droughts like the one we’re experiencing right now and even worse droughts,” says Duane DeKrey, Garrison Diversion General Manager.
The pipeline construction near the site of the groundbreaking involves the installation of 1.2 miles of pipe on the west side of U.S. Highway 52/281 and the Red River Valley & Western Railroad. Garney Construction will tunnel underneath the railroads and highway, with additional pipeline installation running east for one mile. Construction on this portion of the project is expected to be completed by late October. Overall, the RRVWSP has a 10-year construction plan.