This morning I sat in on the first conference committee of the session. Usually they last half an hour and this one went 10 minutes over before they agreed to try later. ANYWAY, it was a bill (HB1339, which I had not previously followed but probably should have) that came in which would have dropped the threshold percentage to appeal an assessed water project from 25 percent to 0. The House had changed it from 0 to 15 percent but the Senate amended it back to 25 percenton the grounds that a majority of those affected by the project had already voted to approve the project “so why should only one or two land owners be able to slow it down”? During the Conference Committee, another Senator said to keep in mind that “some people don’t pay attention to their mail and there is plenty of opportunity for input in the process”. The House still wanted to keep it at 15 percent but I imagine that they may settle at 20 percent.
Last week I attended my first full-blown State Water Commission (SWC) meeting, a quarterly event that usually takes around 5 hours. It was also our new Governor’s first SWC, which he chairs. The most exciting part was a slide show and presentation by a SWC staffer who explained a new technology used in only a few other states which amounts to a MRI of the earth. It is called AEM or Airborne Electro-Magnet. It gets towed around the survey area by a helicopter and it looks like a 100-foot hoop skirt hanging down from the copter. They used it around Jamestown and Spiritwood this summer for a week or so and hydrologists were pretty excited to find not only the exact location of the aquifer they roughly knew was there, but also a new and deeper aquifer under the known body. For an organization that is going to locate a new crush plant above this water, it would appear to be auspicious. As this new technology is dragged around in years to come, the true extent of our state’s under water reservoirs will become much better known. In theory, this will lead to better decisions about usage.