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Act would stop extra Missouri water charges

A new addition to the Water Resources Development Act would stop North Dakotans from being charged extra for Missouri River reservoir water by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said state residents and businesses have a legal right to the water in the river and its six main reservoirs, including Lake Sakakawea. Under the proposed addition, dubbed the States’ Water Rights Act, “charging fees for ‘surplus water’ would violate a state’s right to the waters that naturally flow through its boundaries,” according to a release.

The Corps began to block off access to Missouri River water during the spring of 2010, as the Bakken oil boom necessitated more industrial use. It reserves the right to charge for water, although it doesn’t currently do so.

The bill’s contents should be finalized sometime next week, said Hoeven, who authored North Dakota-centered additions.