A Look Back at the RRVWSP’s Successes in 2017

Posted: Dec 14 2017
Although the Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) has been in the planning stages for several years, the past 12 months have brought the most progress to date.
Sign-up Success
At the beginning of 2017, the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) and Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA) announced that 35 communities and water systems were committed to the development portion of the project.  As part of the development phase, the participating cities and rural water systems agreed to fund the RRVWSP’s conceptual engineering, phased preliminary engineering, and financial modeling.  The commitments were welcome news to the representatives of Garrison Diversion and LAWA who scheduled over a hundred meetings in 2016 to provide information about the project to communities and water systems from central North Dakota to the Red River Valley.

“We are really happy with the number of project partners that committed to the initial stage of the project.  We’re now working to make sure the Red River Valley Water Supply Project remains affordable to construct and operate, so all of our partners can reap the project’s drought mitigation and industrial development benefits,” says LAWA Chairman Tim Mahoney.
The 35 communities and water systems that committed to the development phase include the Cities of Carrington, Cooperstown, Devils Lake, East Grand Forks, Fargo which includes service to West Fargo, Forman, Grafton, Grand Forks, Hannaford, Hillsboro, Langdon, Larimore, Lisbon, Mayville, McVille, Park River, Tuttle, Valley City, and Wahpeton; as well as the Agassiz Water Users District, Barnes Rural Water District, Cass Rural Water Users District, Central Plains Water District, Dakota Rural Water District, Grand Forks-Traill Water District, Greater Ramsey Water District, McLean-Sheridan Rural Water, Northeast Regional Water District, Richland County Job Development Authority, South Central Regional Water District, Southeast Water Users District, Stutsman Rural Water District/Jamestown, Traill Rural Water Users, Inc., Tri-County Rural Water District, and Walsh Rural Water District.
Legislative Success
      Throughout the legislative session, Garrison Diversion and LAWA representatives outlined the project’s needs for the next two years.  At the end of the session, $30 million was included for the RRVWSP in the North Dakota State Water Commission’s budget for the 2017-2019 biennium, with $17 million directed towards planning and permitting and $13 million to initiate construction.

“We are so grateful to the State Water Commission, Gov. Doug Burgum, and North Dakota’s legislators for providing adequate funding to allow the project to make progress while keeping the project affordable for the participating communities and water systems,” says Ken Royse, Chairman of Garrison Diversion. 

The state and local funding will allow the design of a portion of the pipeline and wrap up the discharge structure design, as well as begin construction to ensure coverage under current regulations and permitting.  It will also allow the project team to exercise existing easement options and acquire additional easements. 

“This project will benefit about half of North Dakota’s population by providing a supplemental source of water during droughts by delivering water from the Missouri River to central and eastern North Dakota through a buried pipeline.  The water will provide opportunities for industrial development in participating communities from the central part of the state to the Red River Valley.  We’re pleased lawmakers recognized the importance and relevance of this project, particularly in a year when we had serious drought conditions throughout the state,” says Duane DeKrey, Garrison Diversion General Manager.

The RRVWSP also received attention in Washington, D.C., this fall, when Garrison Diversion and LAWA representatives traveled to the nation’s capital to meet with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Rep. Kevin Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.  “We had a great opportunity to share information about the project during our trip to D.C., and I think the meetings were very productive,” said Ken Vein, Vice Chairman of LAWA. 
Communication Success
            Communications efforts for the RRVWSP ramped up substantially in 2017.  A project website and quarterly newsletter were launched in conjunction with a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Garrison Diversion also devoted its fourth biannual water conference to the RRVWSP.  Roughly 125 people attended the free 2017 Water Conference, “Investing In Our Future: Red River Valley Water Supply Project”.

The new website, www.RRVWSP.com, is a repository for information, such as the need for the project, its history and progress; maps and an explanation of the pipeline route; diagrams and explanations of the project’s features; lists of water users, events, and contact information; easement details; project funding; video that explains the project; and recent RRVWSP media coverage.  The articles from the quarterly newsletter are posted on the project website and they are emailed to subscribers.  To subscribe to the newsletter, click here (https://goo.gl/jENQbC) to fill out a brief form.

If you want to follow the RRVWSP on social media, search @RRVWSP on Facebook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to click the “Like” button on Facebook and the “Follow” button on Twitter to receive project updates in your newsfeed.
“We have had a very busy year, supporting the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.  Our social media following is increasing along with our newsletter subscribers.  The conference was a great opportunity to facilitate discussion about the project, and we are already thinking about the 2019 Water Conference,” says Kimberly Cook, Garrison Diversion Communications Director.