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Board recommends route for proposed Red River Water Supply Project

FARGO — The board behind the proposed Red River Valley Water Supply Project once again endorsed a pipeline route that follows a corridor that already has much of the right of way secured.

The vote Monday by the Lake Agassiz Water Authority board will be presented to the North Dakota State Water Commission, which on May 29 will receive a new engineering analysis of possible pipeline routes to carry water from the Missouri River.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple requested the independent study to help select the best option for the project as the state and local governments proceed without federal support.

Two corridors are being considered for the project, which would supplement water supplies in cities including Fargo and Grand Forks in times of extended drought.

One, long favored by the Lake Agassiz Water Authority, would generally follow Highway 200 and deliver water to Lake Ashtabula near Valley City on the Sheyenne River.

The other would generally follow Interstate 94. That option, which recently was added as a possibility, does not have a preliminary engineering analysis and easements, which are available for the Highway 200 route.

Either option would draw water from the Missouri River near Washburn and pump it east.

The endorsement of the so-called “north route” along Highway 200 was contained in a resolution the Lake Agassiz Water Authority board passed regarding cost-share funding for continued development of the $800 million project.

“We hope that’s the best solution,” said Bruce Furness, chairman of the Lake Agassiz Water Authority and former Fargo mayor. But, he added, the authority doesn’t want to make any presumptions before Dalrymple sees the engineering study.

The 2013 North Dakota Legislature appropriated $11 million for engineering studies and right of way to keep the project moving. Members of the Lake Agassiz Water Authority collectively will pay a $1 million match.

Under a cost-share plan, Fargo has pledged $475,000, Grand Forks $206,481, Moorhead Public Service $56,571, Cass Rural Water Users $27,778 and East Grand Forks, Minn., $19,444.

Of the $1 million match, cities and rural water districts so far have provided $826,145, according to a tally presented at Monday’s meeting.

Project proponents hope the engineering analysis of alternative routes will enable backers to present a detailed proposal to the 2015 North Dakota Legislature.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Dave Koland, general manager of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, which is managing the project.

Studies include the water intake for the project near Washburn and how the water will be delivered to Lake Ashtabula. One possibility is to use Baldhill Creek, a tributary that runs into the reservoir.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to