Well, thank you, Army Corps of Engineers.
The Corps has agreed to let industry and others in the state continue to use water from Lake Sakakawea at no charge for now. The Corps told state leaders it will continue to issue temporary, free permits for oil industry users and others while it gathers public comment and other information on what a reasonable fee for water users would be, a process that could take 18 months to complete. But, the Corps, said, eventually it plans to charge for using surplus water from Lake Sakakawea.
That's unacceptable, and state officials immediately promised to fight the Corps' decision. Their position is simple:?The water in the state legally belongs to the state, and therefore the Corps cannot and should not charge users for the water.
The state's congressional delegation also says the state was promised the ability to use Missouri River water in exchange for losing land to create Garrison?Dam, and the Corps now wants to change that agreement, some 50 years later.
A lot can happen in 18 months. While the Corps gathers information, the state and will continue to oppose the plan to charge water users. We expect to win.