The Missouri River: Whose Water Is It?

Posted: Jun 26 2018
ND Water
June 2018
Special to Garrison Diversion

Stretching nearly 2,500 miles, the Missouri River is the longest river in the country. The drainage basin encompasses one-sixth of the continent, embraces 10 states, two Canadian provinces and the reservations of 25 Indian tribes. A series of six massive dams impede water flow on the main stem of the river, creating three of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. With a combined storage capacity of 74 million acre-feet, it is the largest system of reservoirs in the United States.

States exercise near-exclusive authority over waters within their boundaries, holding water “in trust” for their citizens’  benefit. Yet, when water crosses state lines, controversies frequently arise over who is entitled to use the water and dam the water and in what amounts. The Missouri River history is rife with controversy, and current claims for water indicate a feud over water rights between states is likely.

ND Water - June 2018