Population and industry growth in the Red River Valley has put strains on water resources in the best of times. The General Manager of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District says if the region should fall into a severe drought those problems would increase dramatically. Duane DeKrey says the effort to bring water from central North Dakota to the east is continuing. He says the Red River Water Supply Project is now estimated at One-Billion dollars, with work not getting underway until at least 2019. DeKrey says when it comes to new water supplies there are not many options available for the region…
“…Even in these times of what we would call a wet-cycle, there’s been two years where we have needed water out of Devils Lake just for water supply for the Fargo-Moorhead area because even though we were flooding during the spring, we were so dry during the summer that we needed that water. And Devils Lake is falling now. There’s estimates of anywhere from a one-year to two-year supply of drought water for the Eastern part of the state in Devils Lake. But once Devils Lake gets to a certain level, that won’t be available.”
DeKrey says while Fargo and Grand Forks are the large population centers along the Red, there are also a number of smaller communities that rely on the river for their local water supply.
Climatologists are saying North Dakota could see a 1930's style drought by the year 2050.