BISMARCK, N.D.—The North Dakota Irrigation Association board member, Carter Vander Wal testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife urging passage of H.R. 3081. This legislation would provide reduced power rates to eligible irrigators along the Missouri River and fulfill a long-awaited promise from the federal government.
Vander Wal, an irrigator from rural Emmons County, N.D., spoke to the importance of project pumping power for irrigators up and down the Missouri River. This reduced rate power can save irrigators at least 30% on their power bill for the power needed to get water from the Missouri River to the field. This federal benefit was promised to North Dakota irrigators first in the Flood Control Act of 1944. The Flood Control Act, which authorized the building of the Garrison and Oahe Dams, required the people of North Dakota to sacrifice almost 600,000 acres. In exchange, the federal government promised North Dakota a variety of benefits, including project pumping power for irrigators who were forced to relocate to higher ground when the river was dammed.
“Access to project pumping power…will make a concrete difference for the people of North Dakota,” Vander Wal told the committee. “There are irrigators, some of whom are my neighbors, whose families have been farming along the river for decades—families who saw parts of their farms disappear under water after the dams were built. They have been waiting for their promised access to project pumping power since the 1950s.”
“Passage of H.R. 3081 is essential to fulfilling the federal government’s promise to North Dakota irrigators and to the long-term viability of irrigation in the Missouri River corridor,” said Irrigation Association President Loren DeWitz. “We appreciate the hard work of Congressman Armstrong, Senator Hoeven and Senator Cramer, and their staff, on this legislation and look forward to the day where this bill is signed into law.”