The purpose of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) is to meet the comprehensive water quality and quantity needs of central and eastern North Dakota. Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA) acts as a cooperating agency on the project, representing local water users in the RRVWSP.
Researchers say it is only a matter of time before the Red River Valley suffers another drought like the one that occurred in the 1930s. Hydrologic computer modeling was used to estimate possible drought effects in the Valley based on the area’s 1931 to 1941 drought. The computer models project devastating water shortages.
A reliable supply of quality water is vital to the prosperity and survival of central North Dakota and Red River Valley communities. However, there is a limited water supply in central North Dakota and the Red River Valley. Groundwater supplies are nearly fully appropriated, and state law discourages the conversion of groundwater appropriations for irrigation to appropriations for drinking water.
Existing water supplies throughout central North Dakota and the Red River Valley would be inadequate if a drought occurred, and the industrial demand for water exceeds the current supply. In addition, a drought could have a $33 billion economic impact on the area over a ten-year period of 1930s type drought.
The RRVWSP will utilize a buried pipeline from the McClusky Canal to bring Missouri River water east along the Hwy 200 corridor and discharge into the Sheyenne River. Using Lake Ashtabula as a regulating reservoir, the water will continue down the Sheyenne River and flow into the Red River. Users along the pipeline in central North Dakota and into the Red River Valley will benefit from a much needed, reliable supply of water.
A needs assessment was conducted during the summer and fall of 2016 to determine the water needs for systems in central North Dakota, with the potential to also deliver water via buried pipeline. Thirty-five systems throughout central and eastern North Dakota signed Development Agreements totaling 159.23 cubic feet per second (cfs) to be included in the continuing preliminary design of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.
LAWA will continue to support the Red River Valley Water Supply Project and aid in the realization of this project for the survival of communities in central and eastern North Dakota.