Corps’ water plan is all wet

Gov. Jack Dalrymple has our full support in his latest statement to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The governor in no uncertain terms told the Corps that the state is strongly opposed to any proposal that would charge cities, businesses, tribes, farmers, ranchers or others for access to Missouri River water.

Dalrymple’s comments are just the latest in a long line of political comments that have all agreed: North Dakota users should not be charged for using water that already belongs to the state. State officials, along with the state’s congressional delegation, have repeatedly told the Corps that North Dakota will vigorously defend its right to take water from the Missouri River for municipal and business uses.

Since 2010, the Corps has proposed charging for water to recover the costs of building the Garrison?Dam. In 2012, the Corps, after challenges from Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and the congressional delegation, said it would issue temporary, free permits while it created a water use policy. The Corps has issued exactly one such permit.

That’s unacceptable, as Dalrymple pointed out again last week. The state gave up some 550,000 acres when the Garrison Dam was constructed, and the river water that flows through the state belongs to the state. Therefore, any plan to charge state users for the water is simply wrong.

Water from the Missouri River is vital to the future of North Dakota, from municipal uses to agricultural uses to oil industry uses. The Corps needs to end discussion of charging users for water that already belongs to the state.