Testimony by Dave Koland before the Garrison Diversion Overview Committee
Testimony by Dave Koland, Deputy Manager
Garrison Diversion Conservancy District
To the Garrison Diversion Overview Committee
Testimony on the Red River Valley Water Needs
Bismarck, North Dakota
September 16, 2002
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
My name is Dave Koland; I serve as the Deputy Manager of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District. During one of your previous meetings, a question was raised about the losses experienced by North Dakotans resulting from the inundation of over 500 thousand acres of land by two Missouri River reservoirs built to provide flood control benefits to downstream states.
Those losses are detailed in a March 1978 Agricultural Economics Report No. 127 written by Jay A. Leitch and Donald E. Anderson and published by NDSU entitled: “IMPACT OF INUNDATION AND CHANGES IN GARRISON DIVERSION PROJECT PLANS ON THE NORTH DAKOTA ECONOMY”.
Inundation losses due to Garrison and Oahe Dams, measured in terms of gross business volume and personal income foregone, were estimated for both dry and irrigated cropland and pasture. Estimated potential 1977 revenues foregone for these three land uses totaled $92,748,000 in gross business volume and $34,239,000 in personal income ($108,600,749 and $37,221,089 respectively in 1984 dollars) for land inundated by both reservoirs.
In addition to the losses of foregone agricultural production, other types of income flows and amenities were given up. An estimated 5,850 million tons of lignite were inundated by Garrison Reservoir. The report also details additional forestry, recreation, tax and severance, and potential petroleum losses.
Garrison Diversion Reassessment
Strategic planning is an exercise in identifying initiatives. The Garrison Diversion Conservancy District Board of Directors has recognized that new realities demand new perspectives and, if Garrison Diversion is to continue serving as one of the builders of North Dakota’s water infrastructure, it must prepare for the future. Of course, the future includes the administration of funds appropriated and levied in future years to reach the goals mandated in the Dakota Water Resources Act. But it also includes a larger issue: that of helping North Dakota develop economically and, as a result, build strong communities where young families can settle, raise children and make a home.
Subcommittees of the board, and later the full board, considered what initiatives might be included in Garrison Diversion’s commitment to North Dakota’s future. Subcommittees addressed four main areas of responsibility: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Red River Valley Water Supply Study, Municipal, Rural and Industrial Water Supply, and Recreation. They suggested 25 initiatives for consideration. To read Garrison Diversion Reassessment Report, [click here]. Some of these initiatives have been part of Garrison Diversion’s mission for decades. Others address pressing needs resulting from the changing realities of life in North Dakota. Some look to the 21st Century and how Garrison Diversion might expand its mandate to answer needs before they become problems.
In the wake of the commitments the board made came a new appreciation for the original mandates that Garrison Diversion has exercised for many years and an understanding of how these mandates, administrative and legislative, need to be evaluated as a means to support the new mission. That mission goes beyond simple sponsorship of the federal project but also addresses larger infrastructure needs and planning priorities of the state.
There is an old adage that goes something like this: “If you want to keep getting what you’ve always gotten, then keep doing what you’ve always done.” Perhaps this is reason enough to take a fresh look at Garrison Diversion. Add to that the passage of major legislation, the Dakota Water Resources Act (DWRA), and an even more compelling need for reassessment emerges.
Counties were solicited to join the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District in the mid 50s, based on the plans for the Project that existed at the time. The primary benefit at the time was seen as federally planned and constructed irrigation totaling 250,000 acres. To simply say those plans have changed since then would understate the significance of the changes.
Since the Reformulation Act of 1986, a significant portion of the federal appropriations, secured and managed by the District, has gone to counties outside of the District through municipal, rural and industrial (MR&I) grants. The Project was made statewide by the passage of the Reformulation Act, and Garrison Diversion is a part of the state team working to assure all of North Dakota benefits from the Project. Nevertheless, the distribution of benefits to non-District member counties has always raised questions about the District’s boundaries.
Most obvious among the changes is the irrigation program. While irrigation remains an authorized purpose of the Project, no funding was sought for development of the irrigation acreage. A total of 70,360 acres remain authorized for the Garrison Diversion Project. Non-Indian acres called for in the DWRA total 57,900 and another 12,460 acres are located on the Fort Berthold and Standing Rock Reservations. The irrigation acres are eligible for Pick-Sloan Pumping Power, subject to a Secretarial review and approval process. The promotion of irrigation outside the framework of the Garrison Diversion Project will require a new direction and new thinking, as well as new resources, if a significant impact is expected.
The recreation authorization has been expanded by $6.5 million, calling for a new look at the scope and purpose of the recreation program. Lonetree was de-authorized as a reservoir site and the Wetlands Trust was changed to the Natural Resources Trust with expanded authorities. The new Trust will have a total authorization of $37 million. These significant changes should be examined alongside other opportunities for mutual program development with other agencies. An agenda for nature-based tourism is under development. A successful agenda will call for leadership, as well as new partnerships and new thinking.
The water quality and quantity needs of the communities in the Red River Valley have been given special attention in the DWRA. Garrison Diversion will play a major role in the comprehensive planning, construction, operation and environmental analysis. This is a critical element of North Dakota’s efforts to provide a reliable, high quality and reasonably priced supply of water to as many of its citizens as practical.
The MR&I grant program for Indian and non-Indian needs has been significantly increased. The issues associated with administration of those grants are leading to increasingly complicated and sensitive public policy issues. The old policies and procedures will no longer meet the needs of the people working to provide future opportunities for rural communities.
A higher level of funding authorized under the DWRA is imperative. This will require a new strategic effort to address tough competition for federal dollars in a changing national environment. The District must remain aware of national changes and adjust accordingly. If it does not, the result will be a low level of funding and continued frustration with the progress of the Project.
Continuing to provide service to the people of North Dakota and to the federal government in the same old way will likely result in failure of the District to meet its core responsibilities. It will also miss the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the State’s agenda for a better economic future. For these reasons, the reassessment process was undertaken. The Board of Directors will continue to evaluate the priorities, along with examining how they can help the state of North Dakota achieve success in water development.
Garrison Diversion Unit FY2003 Appropriations
The President’s budget provided for $25.239 million for the Garrison Diversion Unit, the Senate version contains $28.577 million and the House of Representatives $27.239 million. The final budget amounts will be resolved by conference committee action.
The Dakota Water Resources Act increased the ceiling for the Municipal, Rural and Industrial (MR&I) program by $200 million and provided $200 million for the Tribal MR&I program. The District has been supportive of efforts to increase the Bureau of Reclamation budget to the $1 billion level and is engaged in an effort to increase the GDU appropriation to a $40 million/year level.
It is the intention of the District to introduce legislation that deals with the compensation of directors. Previously, as many boards and commissions were, director’s compensation was tied to the compensation of the Legislative Council. Last session all boards and commissions were decoupled from the Legislative Council and set at $62.50/meeting. The District will request that the board of directors be authorized to determine the amount of compensation payable to each member of the board. The compensation section would read:
Compensation of directors. The Garrison Diversion Conservancy District Board of Directors shall determine the amount of compensation payable to each member of the board. Reimbursement of expenses will be as provided by law for state officers, while attending meetings or performing other official duties as directed by the board. The members of the board shall receive no other salary or compensation for their service on the board.”
The Dakota Water Resources Act has pointed the District in a new direction and several sections of the Century Code should be updated and clarified. The District will have legislation introduced that will address those adjustments.
Warren Jamison has announced that he will retire as Manager of the District on December 31, 2002. The Executive Committee has recommended that Dave Koland be appointed to the Manager position on January 1, 2003. The District is planning a retirement dinner for Warren on January 2, 2003, in Carrington.