Today was unique, the Chairman of the Water Topics committee, Rep. Jim Schmidt, had invited all nine of the State Water Commissioners to sit with the 20 legislative committee members for their daylong meeting. While I rarely attend this committee, it made sense to because of so many people present and the agenda’s wide-ranging presentations. Especially, in the light of it being held the day before the Water Drainage committee and in concurrence with the Annual Convention of the North Dakota water users.
For those of us in eastern and central North Dakota, drinking water is largely in a good situation, especially when compared to the western portion of our state. Southwest Water, the Western Area Water Supply and the Northern Area Water Supply are all projects with cities and rural residents still looking for the type of quality we in the east generally enjoy and probably all too often take for granted. We heard 23 or so presenters from various projects, cities and departments as the committee tries to understand where we are with water. Chair Schmidt was thankful for the State Water Commissioners presence as he stated that it was an attempt to get both entities on the same page.
You may have noted that the new name of the State Water Commission is the Department of Water Resources, and their first director is a former aide to Governor Dalrymple who came back to serve as head of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation for about a year until tapped by our current Governor to be in charge of running water. Andrea Travnicek is her name and I have known her for more than a decade. She gave an overview which led to 22 others giving theirs. Suffice it to say that there is too much detail to go into here, but I will put it this way: We are in capable hands, there is a lot of money being spent and we will continue to need more. Red River Water Supply, the Fargo Diversion and the Minot flood protection are a few of the high dollar projects joining the three western projects mentioned above.