NEWS

Missouri Sues U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Other Agencies to Halt Proposed Water Diversion Program in North Dakota

Feb 5, 2020, 12:40 PM by AG Schmitt
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, and several other officials to stop the construction of a water diversion project in North Dakota.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, and several other officials to stop the construction of a water diversion project in North Dakota. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is the lead agency of the State of Missouri for all water quantity issues. The lawsuit, which can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2019/cndwsp-complaint(11269878-16).pdf?sfvrsn=8f98b65c_2, was filed in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, Central Division. 

Under the auspices of the federal Administrative Procedure Act and National Environmental Policy Act, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office argues that the construction of the Central North Dakota Water Supply Project (Central ND Project) shouldn’t proceed until officials determine how the project could impact Missouri’s “human environment.” 

Nearly 2.5 million people, or roughly 40% of Missouri’s population are served directly or indirectly by the Missouri River. 

The lawsuit alleges that North Dakota and the Bureau of Reclamation failed to conduct significant analysis on the impact of the Central ND Project, and falsely stated that the project would pose insignificant impacts on “existing water needs and uses.”

The Central ND Project is a proposed water service contract between the North Dakota Garrison Diversion Conservancy District (Garrison Diversion) and the Bureau of Reclamation. That contract is reliant upon the construction of a six mile pipeline that would deliver water from the McClusky Canal to the Red River Valley Water Supply Project. Waters that run through the McClusky Canal originate from Lake Audubon, which is connected to and comprised of Missouri River water. 

The contract between Central ND Project and Garrison Diversion would entail building and maintaining an intake in the McClusky Canal, wet well, pump station, and approximately 0.10 miles of the aforementioned pipeline. That intake will divert 15,000 acre-feet per year or twenty cubic feet per second of water from the Missouri River, likely for industrial use for North Dakota counties. 

Noted in the lawsuit is the fact that the Missouri River is already depleted by an average of 5.05 million acre-feet per year by the Garrison Dam, located just downstream of the proposed Central ND Project. 

The major uses that Missouri utilizes the Missouri River for are listed in the lawsuit as well, and include fisheries, power generation, municipal and industrial water supply, commodities navigation, and preservation of wetlands and State Parks. 

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