Red River Valley Water Supply Project

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The North Dakota Water Education Foundation’s Water Tour made a stop at the McClusky Canal Headworks on July 27. About 30 attendees took in the “Managing Water through Garrison Diversion” tour.

The McClusky Canal Headworks is an integral part of the original Garrison Diversion Unit. The Garrison Diversion Unit has changed since its 1944 inception in the Flood Control Act. Participants heard about the history of the original federal project and the ongoing use of major investments, including Garrison Dam and the hydroelectric Snake Creek Pumping Plant, which supplies water to Lake Audubon and the McClusky Canal.

Garrison Diversion’s state project, the Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP), may potentially utilize the McClusky Canal as a water source for some or all of the water supply needed for the drought mitigation project as a cost saving measure. The State of North Dakota and local project users could save millions of dollars in capital and operational costs if the McClusky Canal were used in the state RRVWSP. Given the potential cost savings, Garrison Diversion made a formal request to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls McClusky Canal, for a 20 cubic feet per second (cfs) water supply contract utilizing it as an optional water source for the RRVWSP.

Prior to its approval, the Bureau of Reclamation conducted an environmental review on what the agency termed the Central North Dakota Water Supply Project (CNDWSP). After completing this review, the federal agency issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which means the CNDWSP causes no significant environmental impacts. As such, the Bureau of Reclamation agreed to negotiate a contract with Garrison Diversion for the 20 cfs from the McClusky Canal, which means part of the original Garrison Diversion Unit may someday provide a cost benefit to the RRVWSP.

In addition to learning about the original Garrison Diversion Unit project and the RRVWSP, attendees also heard about Garrison Diversion’s other initiatives, including managing wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and local irrigation.