Cities, rural associations meet with ND lawmakers about needed water projects

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Cities and rural associations are meeting with lawmakers about needed water projects like dams and water diversion. Some agencies don’t have revenue they to get projects done.

Not only that, but the drought is putting more pressure on everyone to do something.

On any given evening, the Missouri River is filled with boaters enjoying the water.

But they appear to be the only ones getting what they want out of it.

Irrigation systems and power generators are dealing with low levels and old infrastructure.

Like many other state agencies, COVID took its toll on revenues for the State Water Commission, which oversee irrigation permits.

To help boost projects, lawmakers passed a trio of infrastructure bills giving water hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Water transmission lines are coming to the end of their life span. Some of them are beyond the end of their life span. They’re too expensive to rehab, and quite frankly in some places transmission lines are collapsing into the ground,” Blake Crosby of the ND League of Cities said.

But it’s not as easy as fixing the pipes. Global supply chain issues are causing hiccups in supply and raising prices.

And state leaders are drowning in concern.

“The more legislators that we have that know what’s happening in the world of water, the better our decisions are,” Rep. Jim Schmidt, R-Huff, said.

The pressing issue over water doesn’t leave them with much time to make those decisions.

It’s not just the farmers pushing for help. So is the revitalized oil patch.

Gov. Doug Burgum joined the committee during their lunch to discuss the situation he called “dire.”

“In some cases, we’ve heard wait lists for water well drilling of six months. So we need to move on another form of assistance to cover the gap,” Burgum said.

In the meantime, the state is considering using semi trucks to haul water and renting out tanks to producers to get them by.

Industry leaders say technology is helping producers be more water efficient, which could help expand permits to other users. But state leaders are keeping their eyes on states down stream wanting more of a cut of the river water.

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