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Missouri River ruling favors North Dakota water project

August 28, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by the state of Missouri seeking to stop a project that would supply Missouri River water to central North Dakota.

The Bismarck Tribune reports the ruling will enable the federal Bureau of Reclamation to move ahead with a water service contract for the Central North Dakota Water Supply Project. The project will receive water from the McClusky Canal for systems in Burleigh, Sheridan, Wells, Foster, Kidder, McLean and Stutsman counties.

The Missouri suit alleged violations of federal policy, including failure by project developers to properly study the project’s environmental impacts and its alternatives. U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled against Missouri on all counts Wednesday.

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The state of Missouri “doesn’t like any depletion from the Missouri River,” said Merri Mooridian, deputy manager of the Red River Valley Water Supply Program, which will move Missouri River water by underground pipeline from Washburn east to supply systems in the east and central parts of the state. The Central North Dakota Water Supply Project will use the same pipeline, taking nearly 13 million gallons a day.

“The state of North Dakota has the right to flows of the Missouri River in the state of North Dakota,” Mooridian said.