Regional water supply project sees continued local support as planning progresses

Posted: Aug 14 2016
There was a time in 1988 that Dan Boyce can recall no water flowing over the Riverside Park dam.

A drought had slowed the Red River's flow but the demand for water from East Grand Forks and Grand Forks continued.

"All the water that was coming down the river and the Red Lake River was being used between the two cities," said Boyce, who is the general manager of East Grand Forks Water and Light.

It's a situation he and other local leaders on both sides of the river want to avoid in the coming decades, when climate experts predict a period of severe drought as an inevitability.

With a unanimous vote Aug. 4, the East Grand Forks Water and Light Commission secured the city's continued participation in a regional project seeking to keep water on tap in times of drought.

The vote gave the green light to an agreement between the city and the Lake Agassiz Water Authority that pledges money to the continued development of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project. The $1 billion project seeks to provide a supplemental water source by transporting water from the Missouri River to the Red River through a series of pipelines and natural waterways.

The project has seen restructure over the years following the loss of federal partners and remains in its planning stages between the state of North Dakota and LAWA, which represents local entities in 13 eastern North Dakota counties and three Minnesota cities.

"Essentially, what we're asked to consider at this point is what's the cost to stay at the table?" Boyce said. "What do we have to ante up to stay in the game while everything gets sorted out?"

Grand Forks had approved a similar agreement in May, committing a maximum of $364,000 to planning and development costs. Under its agreement, East Grand Forks pledged $34,000.


The Grand Forks Herald | Brandi Jewett