Red River Valley Water Supply Project Leadership Strives for Positive Landowner Relations

Posted: Sep 20 2022
At the very beginning of the state Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP), the project’s co-sponsors made Landowner Respect one of the Guiding Principles of the project, based on the golden rule. Most of the leaders of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) and Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA) are also landowners, so they understand the importance of treating people fairly – the way they would want to be treated.

As Garrison Diversion is responsible for the construction of the RRVWSP, the organization has had a lead role in the acquisition of easements to build the project. Unlike many other infrastructure projects, the design of the RRVWSP involves buried pipelines which means landowners can utilize their land as they always have before and after construction. In addition, the construction of the RRVWSP does not require landowners to lose ownership of their land, even if pipe is buried on it. “All landowners are compensated for the use of their land,” explains Kip Kovar, Garrison Diversion District Engineer and Deputy Program Manager for RRVWSP Engineering. “One of the benefits of this project is that landowners continue to maintain ownership of their acreage with limited risk of damage to the land. Unlike oil, gas, or frack water pipelines, the Red River Valley Water Supply pipelines will only carry water.”

Garrison Diversion follows a specific easement process with each landowner. “First, a letter is sent to the landowner or landowners to identify the tract of land where an easement is needed. The letter comes with a packet of information about the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, including a map that shows the pipeline route and project features. The packet also includes an overview of the 28-county Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, Garrison Diversion’s crop damage policy, and the easement agreement to be signed with a return envelope,” says Kovar.

After the packet of information goes out, land agents from KLJ contact landowners to discuss easement requests, as well as compensation amounts. Resolution of last resort proceedings are a last resort.

The RRVWSP is a drought mitigation project that will utilize the Missouri River to provide an emergency and supplemental water supply to cities and rural water systems from central to eastern North Dakota. “This is a forward-thinking project that will ensure half the state’s population has drinking water during future droughts. It will also help maintain North Dakota’s economy when another catastrophic drought occurs,” says Merri Mooridian, Garrison Diversion Administrative Officer and Deputy Program Manager for RRVWSP Administration. “We thank landowners who have already provided easements for the project. You’re helping to make North Dakota more drought resilient.”