North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Thursday reiterated his strong opposition to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal that calls for charging municipalities, businesses, farmers and ranchers for water taken from the Missouri River reservoir.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said a large volume of public responses will delay for about a month a decision on the fee proposal.
"The Missouri River shall forever be the property of the state of North Dakota and our water users must have access without cost and without the requirement of surplus water agreements," Dalrymple says. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is attempting to achieve monetary gain where none is justified."
Dalrymple has repeatedly expressed his strong opposition to the plan. Dalrymple has spoken out against the proposal at public meetings and during regular talks with Corps officials. He also has testified in support of a proposed House resolution that calls for the Corps to abandon the ill-conceived idea.
Released in December, the Corps' draft Lake Sakakawea Surplus Water Report and Environmental Assessment, calls for requiring surplus water supply agreements and fees for municipal and industrial use. In the report, the Corps cites its 2008 Real Estate Policy to restrict easement rights and, ultimately, to require water users in the upper Missouri River Basin to begin paying a water storage fee. The report says the water fee would be used to pay the construction costs of the 60-year-old Garrison Dam, and the rate is set based on what it would cost to build the dam today.
"North Dakota citizens gave up about 550,000 acres of prime farmland and resources for construction of the reservoir and now the Corps wants to charge a water fee when the State of North Dakota has always maintained its right to the free flow of the Missouri River," Dalrymple says. "This proposal is not acceptable."
Source: ND Governor's Office