Backers of a plan to bring Missouri River water to the Red River Valley in times of drought say they may be able to take the water from the existing McClusky Canal, instead of a proposed intake near Washburn.
It’s a billion dollar project. But the project's backers say they will be able to save some money using the Canal option.
"You go with McClusky, you save $171 million," Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney told the Legislature's interim Water Topics Committee. "That's why we want to do that."
Mahoney said the new administration at the federal Department of the Interior seems more open to the idea of using that canal – which was built as part of the original Garrison Diversion project.
"We've come to the realization the best option to save construction and capital costs is to come out of the canal," said Garrison Diversion Conservancy District vice-chairman Ken Vien. "If we can't get it out of teh canal, we would go back to the Missouri River itself. That's our fall-back."
Vien told the Committee this will also save $4 million a year in operational costs. He and Mahoney say the project plans should be finalized within the next several months, with construction possibly beginning in 2019.