2017 Water Conference Educates Public on Red River Valley Water Supply Project

Posted: Dec 14 2017
The Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) focused the 2017 Water Conference on a major drought relief project that will benefit nearly 50 percent of North Dakota’s population.  The “Investing In Our Future: Red River Valley Water Supply Project” conference, held November 7 in Fargo, covered topics ranging from the history and design of the project, to future funding considerations.

During the “State of Water in ND” panel discussion, attendees heard viewpoints about infrastructure and funding needs from city and rural leaders, as well as the state and legislative level.  The panel members included John Paczkowski, North Dakota’s Assistant State Engineer; Rep. Jim Schmidt, Chair of the ND Water Topics Committee; Blake Crosby, ND League of Cities Executive Director; and Eric Volk, ND Rural Water Systems Association Executive Director.  Joel Heitkamp, KFGO radio host, served as the panel moderator.

Gordon Johnson, Northeast Regional Water District General Manager, provided his perspective on the RRVWSP during the “Small Users, Big Impacts” session, as his water system is participating in the development phase of the project.  “We need water for industrial use, yet we have to make sure our rates remain affordable while additional costs would be added to water rates that are already fairly high. I hope the State will provide funding to help offset some of the project’s construction and operation costs, as any economic development that may happen is a benefit to the whole state.”

Kip Kovar, RRVWSP Deputy Program Manager for Engineering/Garrison Diversion District Engineer, led a session about the RRVWSP process for procuring and exercising easements. “There are about 3,050 acres needed for right of way, 400 parcels and 300 landowners impacted, so it is our top priority to keep everyone informed about the process.  We intend to begin the communication process to start acquiring easements in early 2018 and begin exercising our existing easement options by the end of 2018,” explained Kovar.  Garrison Diversion is working with KLJ’s Right-of-Way Land Group on easements.  We will send letters to landowners and follow up with calls to answer questions.  Face-to-face meetings will also be scheduled to provide additional information, as needed.

“We appreciate all of the legislators, project participants, and citizens who spent the day at the conference.  And to those water systems or communities who weren’t able to send someone to the conference but are interested in learning more about the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, please contact me at the Garrison Diversion office to set up a meeting.  It’s not too late to be included,” says Duane DeKrey, Garrison Diversion General Manager.

A new video about the project was shared for the first time at the conference. It is now posted on the project’s website and can be viewed here: http://www.rrvwsp.com/about/.