Months ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conjured up a plan that sounded too silly to be true:?The Corps would begin charging water users for storing surplus water in Lake Sakakawea.
In essence, the Corps said they would charge North Dakotans a fee to store water that's already there, water that already belongs to us.
When this preposterous plan was unveiled, it understandably caused concern among North Dakotans, and the state's political officials. Complaints were made to the Corps, arguing logically that it's unfair to charge us for water that already belongs to us. Still, the Corps is apparently moving forward with the plan.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., met this week with Corps officials, who told the senator the Corps would make a final decision after finishing an audit of reservoir contracts, easements, permits and practices. Conrad's point to the Corps is that only one entity pays such a storage fee, and that the plan "contradicts the long-standing federal commitment to North Dakota to compensate us for the loss of land due to the construction of Garrison Dam."
We certainly hope that the audit reveals what most of us already know: The plan is nonsense, and should be abandoned immediately.