ND Sen. stresses states’ water rights at rural water expo
February 20, 2014
FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today stressed the need to pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and protect states' water rights at the 28th Annual Rural Water Expo. The North Dakota Rural Water Systems Association (NDRWSA) hosted the annual event in Fargo.
"Clean and abundant water for both residential and business uses is fundamental to any community, which is why the work you do across North Dakota to improve the quality of our rural water supply is so important," Hoeven said. "I remain committed to working on the Senate Appropriations Committee and with your organization to see that the federal government is pulling with you to ensure that the water needs of rural North Dakota continue to be met."
Hoeven is currently working to secure final passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The WRDA bill has passed both the Senate and the House, and members from both chambers are working to reconcile the two versions. The measure is expected to pass Congress in the upcoming weeks.
The WRDA bill includes an amendment authored by Hoeven that bars the Army Corps of Engineers from charging an unprecedented surplus water fee for access to Missouri River reservoirs. The States' Water Rights Act fixes in law that charging fees for "surplus water" would violate a state's right to the waters that naturally flow through its boundaries as recognized by the federal government.
"It is important that we bar the federal government from charging us for water that historically, legally and ethically belongs to the citizens and tribes of North Dakota, as well as other states along the Missouri River," said Hoeven. "We have fought long and hard to preserve the integrity of the Missouri River and the rights of our people to use it to support their homes and their livelihoods."
Hoeven also emphasized that the Red River Valley Water Supply Project would benefit from his amendment allowing North Dakotans access to the Missouri River. Hoeven has been pressing the Interior Department to provide support for the Red River Valley Water Supply that has already been authorized by Congress.
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The WRDA bill also includes authorization for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley in addition to the Hoeven amendment barring the Army Corps of Engineers from charging residents and businesses for Missouri River reservoir water. Authorization is necessary for construction of the project, Hoeven said.
Hoeven also emphasized provisions in the farm bill to assist with rural water management and flood protection. The new farm bill includes $500 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that can be used in part to support flood protection in the Red River Valley to help protect upstream interests, as well as other conservation, rural development and energy programs.
Additionally, a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Senator Hoeven worked to secure more than $20 million in funds for water programs in fiscal year 2014, such as the Circuit Rider and Grassroots Source Water Protection programs that help rural communities manage and protect their water supplies. Hoeven is currently working with NDRWSA on their requests for fiscal year 2015. F