Financing the $1 billion Red River Valley water supply project

Jul 26, 2017

The Legislature's interim Water Topics Committee meeting in Bismarck 7/25/17
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Work on the design for the proposed Red River Valley Water Supply project continues.

And soon the question will be – how to pay for the one billion dollar project.

As proposed, it would bring Missouri River water to the Red River Valley in times of drought. Easements have to be obtained, pipes and intakes have to be built, and partnerships with counties and cities along the route are being sought.

After the planning process is complete, the project’s directors will have to come back and present its financing proposals to state lawmakers.

"In the bill -- HB 1020 -- the last item they (project backers) have to achieve before they can turn one shovel of dirt is they have to come up with 'a recommendation for funding options for all phases of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project,'" Committee chairman Rep. Jim Schmidt (R-Huff) told the Committee. "They're required to come up with those funding options before they turn one shovel of dirt."

Rep. Roscoe Streyle (R-Minot) said project supporters have to come up with a proposal of how much the state would pay, and how much would be a local share.

"NAWS (Northwest Area Water Supply) got 65 percent state funding," Streyle said. "Can we do that? Is that affordable?"

Streyle suggested the Bank of North Dakota as a funding option for the local share.

"I think we would be fools not to use the Bank of North Dakota," Streyle said. "We could also bond the local share through the Bank."

The backers hope to start construction on the project in 2019.