Officials say massive water project could hurt state farming, shipping

Attorneys for the federal government and North Dakota are asking an appeals court to reject the state of Missouri’s challenge to a $244 million water project.

The state of Missouri challenged the Northwest Area Water Supply Project, which aims to bring water from the Missouri River to as many as 82,000 people in northwestern North Dakota. Missouri officials say the project will deplete the river by 3.5 billion gallons each year.

This isn’t the first time Missouri officials have expressed concern over water conditions affecting state farming. Separately, Missouri has been experiencing drought conditions that have put the state’s farmers at a competitive disadvantage in the soybean market.

Regarding the Missouri River project, an attorney for the state of North Dakota argues that Missouri doesn’t own the river, and “wildly overstates the size and potential impacts of the project.”

Congress first authorized the project in 1986. In 2002, the Canadian province of Manitoba sued over concerns of contamination from the Missouri River Basin to the Hudson Bay Basin. In 2009, Missouri sued over fears of water depletion. The judge in the case never ruled on the claims after deciding last year that the state does not have authority to sue the federal government over the matter. Missouri appealed.

But future state and federal funding for the project is not certain, and there it is no guarantee that the project will ever be fully built.

Read more: Associated Press

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