That's a long straw

North Dakota State Roundup

Published July 1, 2007  | July 2007 issue

Despite the fact that the entire Red River Valley orients itself to a river of the same name, lawmakers approved funding for a major infrastructure project that will secure a better water source for valley residents that is clear across the state.

In the last legislative session, lawmakers pledged $100 million to begin work on a pipeline to bring water from Lake Sakakawea (the Missouri River's largest in-state reservoir) some 300 miles east to Fargo and other Red River Valley communities. Once completed, the project is expected to cost $700 million or more.

The proposal has been in the works for decades, spurred by the distant memories of a drought in the 1930s that almost dried up the Red River, and with it the main water source for many valley residents. Ironically, the project might not end drought fears; several recent years of drought have lowered Lake Sakakawea more than 20 feet below normal.

Ronald A. Wirtz