July 11, 2017

State OKs industrial use of Little Missouri River water

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

Despite 600 temporary industrial use permits issued for the Little Missouri River in violation of a state law passed to retain its natural conditions, North Dakota’s water commission has voted to continue issuing such permits after a review.
At its meeting last month, the state water commission voted 7-1 to allow temporary, year-round industrial use permits of the Little Missouri River following a review by the State Engineer’s Office. The Little Missouri State Scenic River Act of 1975 prohibits industrial use but awareness of the law lapsed, said state engineer Garland Erbele.
His office granted the 600 permits for the river since 1990, about half of which were for construction-related projects, he said.
The onset of the Bakken oil boom in 2009-10 brought more interest for water in western North Dakota, he added. Just last spring, his office learned of the illegal permits.
“We made a mistake,” Erbele said. “We didn’t realize the law existed.”

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