Members of the Northwest Area Water Supply Advisory Committee met in closed session Tuesday to discuss legal strategy with a Washington, D.C., attorney regarding a lawsuit that has been putting a crimp in completion of the project.
Manitoba sued over possible transfer of organisms from the Missouri River Basin to the Hudson Bay Basin, and the federal judge in the case has ordered further environmental study. Fred Wagner, who is serving as special assistant attorney general for North Dakota, discussed the case briefly with the committee before the closed session.
He said the judge has agreed to allow improvements at the Minot Treatment Plant to go forward next year. She denied a request to begin design work on an intake structure at Lake Sakakawea.
Alicia Waters, program analyst with the Bureau of Reclamation, reported that the bureau is reviewing public comments in its development of an supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
"We didn't hear anything new relative to treatment," she said. "We heard a lot of information from the water users about the need for the water."
The bureau is in the process of securing an environmental contractor to assist in the analysis of potential transfer of organism into the Hudson Bay. It also plans to work with the Corps of Engineers to analyze depletion in the Missouri River from NAWS.
Meanwhile, the advisory committee approved continuing build-out of pipeline. The federal judge has agreed to construction of any pipeline north of Minot. Present plans call for about two years of work in construction of a new pipeline to Minot Air Force Base, extension of pipeline to serve All Seasons Water Users and an upgrade at the Minot Treatment Plant.
Beyond that, said Michelle Klose, NAWS project manager with the State Water Commission, the project could keep going as far east as Bottineau.
"We would like to continue the project moving forward," she said. "I am not seeing anything right now preventing us from continuing design work and possibly some construction."
The committee urged Klose to begin the additional design work.
"Put the pipe in the ground. They need the water," said committee member Clif Issendorf, of Newburg. "The people up there waited and waited. They supported it from day one. Put the pipe in the ground."
The committee agreed to allow North Prairie Rural Water District to tap into the NAWS line when it is built near Ruthville to provide added service to Deering and the rural area around Granville, Surrey and Deering. North Prairie is seeking funding for the expansion.