GRAND FORKS, ND (AP) Officials said a project to pipe Missouri River water to the Red River Valley could cost the city a lot of money, while taxpayers are still paying for a dike project to protect against flooding.
“It’s a planner’s dream and a politician’s nightmare,” said City Council member Bob Brooks.
The Red River Valley goes through wet and dry cycles. A drought comparable to the one during the Great Depression is likely to happen before 2050, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The Lake Agassiz Water Authority, which represents 13 North Dakota counties along the river, is asking Grand Forks to decide whether to participate in a project to pipe water from the Missouri River to the valley.
The minimum cost of the project is estimated at $430 million. Officials hope to begin construction as early as 2009.
Grand Forks officials plan to do more figuring on water needs and costs. Other cities in the valley, including Fargo, will be doing the same.
Many Grand Forks City Council members said city participation is likely inevitable. Council President Hal Gershman said he will ask the Lake Agassiz group to let Grand Forks defer payment until after taxpayers pay off dike debts.
Councilman Doug Christensen remained skeptical. “Maybe it’s a want, not a need,” he said.