History

Federal Project:
Authorized by the Dakota Water Resources Act
The Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) was first initiated as a federal project. The Dakota Water Resources Act (DWRA) of 2000 authorized the RRVWSP in order to provide a reliable supply of quality drinking water for the Red River Valley. The need for the project arose from the drought-prone Red River and supported studies that show a severe drought, similar to that of the 1930s, will likely repeat by the year 2050.  If this were the case, water supplies in the Red River Valley would be insufficient. The DWRA also mandated the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with joint leadership between the federal government and the State of North Dakota. Garrison Diversion was designated by the governor to represent the State of North Dakota in the RRVWSP.
 
Environmental Impact Statement
Garrison Diversion (representing the State of North Dakota) and the Bureau of Reclamation (representing the federal government) were co-leads in the development of the EIS. The purpose of the EIS was to evaluate alternatives to meet the long-term water needs of the Red River Valley in North Dakota and three border cities in Minnesota; East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Breckenridge. In 2007, the final version of the EIS was released.
 
Comprehensive Report to Congress
In accordance with the DWRA, the Bureau of Reclamation sent a comprehensive report for the proposed project to Congress on December 5, 2008.  The report identified the selected alternative, environmental issues, effects on Minnesota and Missouri River states and compliance with the Boundary Waters Treaty. Their proposed project identified by the Secretary of Interior was the Garrison Diversion Unit (GDU) Import to the Sheyenne River Alternative. This was the preferred alternative of the Bureau of Reclamation, State of North Dakota and the Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA) in 2008. 
 
State and Local Plan:
The original Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) was conceived as a federal, state and local project. Without federal authorization in place, local leaders and stakeholders began to look for a state and local option to complete the highly needed project. After completing multiple studies and examining countless alternatives, two alternative studies emerged, Washburn to Baldhill Creek and Bismarck to Lake Ashtabula. The most feasible option that emerged is the route from Washburn to Lake Ashtabula. On December 18, 2015, the LAWA selected this route as their preferred alignment. The Senate Bill 2020 from the 2015-2017 biennium enacted legislative intent to fund the RRVWSP with $150 million per biennium over four biennia equating to $600 million total.

This route for the RRVWSP is more flexible, environmentally friendly and reliable. The route is adaptable to different growth patterns, and the Sheyenne and Red Rivers provide increased water delivery capacity to the systems compared to a pipeline. Using the river conveyance will enhance return flow capture allowing reuse of the RRVWSP water. This route also provides benefits to the aquatic environment of fish, mussels and the riparian habitat. There are minimal impacts on the Missouri River using this supported route, and it’s reliable. This route utilizes Lake Ashtabula as a storage reservoir, state-of-the-art water treatment plants that currently exist in the Valley and will continue to be used, and supplemental water supply that will not add to Baldhill Dam Sheyenne River flooding.

As the work progressed during the legislation session, it became evident the RRVWSP needed to be expanded to include central North Dakota, as well as eastern North Dakota. In response to the 2015 legislative session, we expanded the needs of the RRVWSP to encompass central North Dakota. The state and local project version of the RRVWSP will benefit users along the pipeline route and ultimately the Red River Valley, providing an advantage over the original federal project, as that only served users in the Red River Valley.