BISMARCK, North Dakota, August 4, 2021 (ENS) – With 98 percent of the state suffering severe extreme, and exceptional drought, the North Dakota State Water Commission has approved two new water supply programs and allocated an additional $2 million to the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program to help farmers and ranchers battling North Dakota’s worst drought conditions in at least 30 years.
“North Dakota producers continue to face unprecedented drought conditions that are devastating crops, decimating livestock herds and destroying billions of dollars in value on farms and ranches that have been built over generations,” said Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican who also chairs the State Water Commission.
“The relief approved today will help livestock producers manage this adversity and invest in infrastructure that builds resiliency against extreme drought conditions now and in the future,” the governor said.
“The actions taken by the State Water Commission today will provide much needed relief to producers who are making difficult decisions every day to work through this drought,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “The Emergency Water Supply Program will assist producers in filling the gap between immediate needs and long-term solutions.”
The money will come from a $6 million discretionary fund for water project grants, appropriated by the Legislature in the 2021-23 budget for the newly renamed Department of Water Resources.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows 10 percent of North Dakota is in exceptional drought, 42 percent is in extreme drought, 46 percent percent is in severe drought and the remaining two percent is in moderate drought. Burgum declared a statewide drought disaster in early April, and drought conditions have only continued to deteriorate.
Since the Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program was reactivated in April, the State Water Commission has approved $3.8 million for 963 projects involving 669 livestock producers, leaving a balance of $313,000 for additional projects.
Program details are available on the Water Commission’s website at www.swc.nd.gov. Eligible livestock producers seeking more information about the program may call (701) 328-4989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because of the intense demand for the program, the wait list for a water well driller can be longer than six months, and help is needed to cover the gap until a new well or other water source is secured.
To cover the gap, Department of Water Resources staff worked with the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, Department of Agriculture, state legislators and the Governor’s Office to propose an Emergency Water Supply Program. The Commission today approved the program with $2 million from the discretionary fund.
The Emergency Water Supply Program will reimburse producers for half of eligible costs for temporary water supply, equipment and hauling, up to $4,500 per individual. The Department of Agriculture will administer the program and forward approved expenses to the Department of Water Resources for reimbursement.
“This program will provide a much-needed, immediate water supply for livestock producers who are currently on a waiting list for a permanent water supply,” said John Paczkowski, interim state engineer.
Applications will be available on August 23, 2021. For more information including eligibility and what will be needed for a complete application, go to the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Water Supply Program are available on their website at www.nd.gov/ndda/ewsp. Eligible livestock producers seeking more information about the program may contact the department at 844-642-4752.
The Commission also approved funding for a Permanent Trust Lands Water Supply Program to support the installation of permanent wells, pasture taps and water pipelines on state-owned trust lands that are leased for grazing.
The Department of Trust Lands will identify eligible projects based on need and lessee interest and issue a Permanent Improvement Permit for approved projects. For more information, contact Jacob Lardy at (701) 328-1919 or email@example.com .
To view maps showing current burn ban restrictions and fire danger levels, and for information on how to prevent wildfires, visit www.ndresponse.gov.
Featured image: Drought is crippling North Dakota as the months stretch out with only occasional light rain. (Photo courtesy North Dakota Department of Game & Fish)