Committee questions cost share for planning the Red River Valley Water Supply Project

Mar 9, 2016

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Water Topics Overview Committee says he has a major concern over the state-versus-local funding split for the planning costs of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.

That project would bring Missouri River Water to the Red River Valley in times of drought. The project’s backers say the planning costs would be 90 percent covered by state dollars, with the remaining 10 percent from local sources – in this case, the Lake Agassiz water board.

Rep. Jim Schmidt (R-Huff) says the 90-10 split was basically a “gentlemen’s agreement” – and is not in state law or state Water Commission policy. He says the split should be more local, and less state.

"If you take a look at preliminary engineering costs for rural water systems, or water supply systems, those engineering costs are 35 percent state funds, and 65 percent local," Schmidt said. "Why is there the difference?"

Schmidt says the final project cost split for the $1.3 billion project has not yet been worked out.

"I think the communities that benefit from it understand that they're going to pay a fair share," Schmidt said.

Schmidt says his committee will continue working on those issues.