A plan to divert Missouri River water to eastern North Dakota has been back in the news again this week, owing to a $30 million contribution from the North Dakota legislature. Work will start next year on the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, a 165-mile pipeline from The Missouri River near Washburn, N.D., into the Baldhill Reservoir north of Valley City. This water will get to the Fargo Water Plant by a separate pipeline.
The $1 billion project is, essentially, a scaled-back continuation of the Garrison Diversion Project, a decades-old plan to relieve drought conditions in the Red River Valley by supplanting the limited water supply in the Red River Basin. The city of Fargo would be the primary beneficiary. Although most of us think of the Red River as the river that floods, it is also prone to going very nearly dry during times of long-term drought and because most of the water in Sakakawea comes from the Rockies, it is unlikely to dry up at the same time as the Red.