Garrison Diversion

Garrison Diversion Chronology



January 7, 2000 – Board approved a consulting contract with Fermata, Inc., to prepare an initial study on public use for Lonetree Wildlife Management Area.

April 6-7, 2000 – The board discussed the Warren Act. The intention of the act was to give the Secretary the authority to negotiate for use of excess capacity that may be in the facilities constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation. This would make full use of the government’s investments in a way that is not negative to their primary partner. This is important to the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District because of the excess capacity on the McClusky and New Rockford Canals.

The other issue is the difference between project and non-project water. This is critical to the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District because the McLean-Sheridan Rural Water System has looked at taking water out of the McClusky Canal. The Warren Act would make this possible.

December 15, 2000 – Dakota Water Resources Act Bill passed.

Devils Lake Court Case – The state has won the Bed of Devils Lake court case, but Spirit Lake Nation will appeal. If the tribe wins, they would own land to the northern shore of Devils Lake, which would put their reservation boundary in the city of Devils Lake.

April 11-12, 2001 – The board approved a resolution supporting a fair, objective Red River Valley analysis to determine the best way to meet current and future water needs of the valley.

January 2, 2003 – The board affirmed the designation that the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District will represent the state as the joint lead with the Department of Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation in preparing the Red River Valley Water Supply Project Environmental Impact Statement.

April 10, 2003 – McKenzie and Williams Counties’ petitions to join the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District were approved by the board.

April 10, 2003 – The board approved a resolution to be sent to the State Water Commission supporting the restructuring of an irrigation development plan for North Dakota and that the North Dakota Irrigation Caucus be renamed the North Dakota Irrigation Development Association.

October 2, 2003 – The board approved up to 1,600 acres for Sioux Irrigation District as part of the authorized 28,000 undesignated acres of the Dakota Water Resources Act and Garrison Diversion Unit Reformulation Act eligible for project pumping power, contingent upon subsequent agreement among the Bureau of Reclamation, the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District and Sioux Irrigation District, subject to the finding of financial and economic feasibility and development of those acres.

October 2, 2003 – The board approved a motion in support of Senate Bill 900 and House Bill 2257, authorizing title transfer of the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation District in Montana and North Dakota.

January 5, 2005 – The board approved up to 740 acres for the Yellowstone Pumping Irrigation District and 2,757 acres for the Cartwright Irrigation District as part of the authorized 28,000 undesignated acres in the Dakota Water Resources Act eligible for project pumping power contingent upon subsequent agreements between the Bureau of Reclamation, Garrison Diversion Conservancy District and the Yellowstone Pumping Irrigation and Cartwright Districts, subject to the timely development of said acres.

April 6, 2005 – The Public Relations Committee was renamed the Public Relations and Red River Valley Committee.

October 7, 2005 – Garrison Diversion Conservancy District Board of Directors selects the Garrison Diversion Unit Import to the Sheyenne River Alternative as the state’s preferred alternative for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.

December 21, 2007 – The final Environmental Impact Statement for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project was released by the Bureau of Reclamation and the state of North Dakota.

December 5, 2008 – The Bureau of Reclamation submitted a Comprehensive Report to Congress, as required by the DWRA, for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.

January 2009 – The Secretary of Interior signed a memorandum that stated the identified treatment of Missouri River water for the Project was adequate to meet the requirements of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.


July 18, 1990 – A special meeting was held to discuss budget and introduced a resolution making a one-mill levy on all real property with the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

April 4-5, 1991 – MR&I program share went from 75%-25% to 65%-35%.

Plans for development and acquisition of Kraft Slough have been finalized. Kraft Slough is an issue in retaining support from the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation.

July 11-12, 1991 – New Rockford Canal is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1991.

October 10-11, 1991 – Bureau of Reclamation reported New Rockford Canal is 99 percent complete and final inspection is in a week.

Garrison Diversion Conservancy District has officially taken over Operation and Maintenance of the McClusky Canal and New Rockford Canal.

Southwest pipeline dedication on October 23, 1991.

April 2-3, 1992 – Reviewed proposed amendments to the Garrison Diversion Unit Reformulation Act of 1986.

Oct. 1-2, 1992 – Discussed starting the development of the Environmental Impact Statement on alternatives to the proposed Sykeston Canal.

July 1, 1993 – Board passed Joint Resolution No. 93-7-461 to encourage the comprehensive evaluation of all possible options for the completion of the principle water delivery system of the Garrison Diversion Unit.

October 7, 1993 – Dedication – Lonetree Wildlife Management Area.

April 8, 1994 – Board approved the MR&I priority system.

1994 – Started working on collaborative process.

October 3-4, 1996 – Board approved the resolution in support of the Garrison Diversion Unit completion package.

July 1-2, 1997 – Lonetree Wildlife Management Area was officially transferred to the ND Game and Fish Department on January 1, 1997.

December 5, 1997 – Board approved the resolutions supporting S1515 (Dakota Water Resources Act of 1997) by Senators Conrad and Dorgan and HR 3012 by Congressman Pomeroy.

April 8 & 9, 1998 – National Water Resource Association has had a long-standing rule not to support individual projects. They made an exception and adopted a resolution, which resulted in a letter, supporting both the Garrison Diversion Unit and Animas La Plata. This is a significant step.

The ND Irrigation Caucus was formed in December 1998.

October 7-8, 1999 – SB2188 – The state, through the tobacco settlement fund, will allocate $320 million for water development over the next 25 years. North Dakota may be the only state that will use a portion of the funds for water development.


May 6, 1981 – Acting on an appeal by the National Audubon Society, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey declared that the Stipulation and Order of May 11, 1977 was valid and ordered all project design and construction work to cease.

May 23, 1981 – A special report on phase development of the Garrison Diversion Unit prepared by Bureau of Reclamation, calling for the initial development of 85,460 acres of irrigation, all within the Missouri River drainage basin. Phase II, including the remaining 165,540 irrigation acres of the authorized plan, would be added later. The Phase I development includes, at the outset, completion of the 5,000-acre West Oakes Irrigation Test Area which is designed, as recommended by the International Joint Commission, to test irrigation return flows in relationship to the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada.

January 6, 1982 – A special federal-state committee was created to address the issue of wildlife mitigation lands for the first 85,000-acre phase of the project with emphasis on improving wildlife production and carrying capacity through intensive management of lands already in the hands of the federal government for fish and wildlife purposes. Time allotted to completion of the report was 11 months, with the stipulation that any plan developed would have to be acceptable to the State of North Dakota. The Garrison Diversion Conservancy District’s firm policy of acquisition of mitigation lands from willing sellers only remained in effect.

April 1, 1982 – Motion supporting South Dakota’s request from Congress for funds for a feasibility study on all aspects of the proposed extension of the Garrison Diversion Unit. Board voted to support Gov. Olson’s Policy Statement – Missouri River Water use, Jan. 28, 1982. (It is the official policy position of the Governor of North Dakota that the action by Congress embodied in the Flood Control Act of 1944, as amended, resulted in a major allocation of the waters of the Missouri River among the basin states. Completion of the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin program, of which the Garrison Diversion Unit is an integral part, is a matter of priority. Any attempt to change the allocation of the waters already approved by the Congress is considered not to be in the best interests of the state.)

April, 1983 – Murray Sagsveen, Garrison Diversion Conservancy District Attorney, updated the Board on court cases – Devils Lake Park Board vs. Garcia, North Dakota v. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. James River Flood Control Association has appealed Judge Porter’s decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement and at the same time says an impact statement for the 85,000-acre first phase should be written.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 4011, which endorsed Governor Olson’s policy concerning priorities and use of the water of the Missouri River, supporting the Garrison Diversion Unit and 4031, and urging the Secretary of Interior to adopt North Dakota’s proposal for phased development, was passed.

October 5-6, 1983 – Directors passed a motion at Attorney Sagsveen’s request to prepare a final draft of the supplemental agreement to the master contract, to the extent we could with the Department of the Interior, to adopt the phased implementation and mitigation plan.

January 5-6, 1984 – Senate Bill 1739 has been reported out of committee and contains language restating the Pick-Sloan Plan and the O’Mahoney-Milliken Amendment, pointing out the contributions made by the upper states. The O’Mahoney-Milliken Amendment gave priority of water use in the Missouri Basin.

Bureau of Reclamation reported there have been four major active contracts in the past year. Oakes Pumping Plant, which is 70 percent complete; Oakes drains, which are 50 percent complete; Reach 1B of the New Rockford Canal, which is 60 percent complete; and Lonetree Dam, which is 18 percent complete. There has also been some considerable progress in land acquisition for mitigation for the Lonetree Reservoir and West Oakes drains.

Awarding of a contract for the West Oakes distribution system should be in Feb. 1984 and a contract for Reach 1A of the New Rockford Canal to be let sometime this summer.

July 5-6, 1984 – In the matter of the ownership of the bed of Devils Lake, they are in the process of identifying owners around the lake and all have been served notice. Related to this now is the 101 Ranch Case since the Devils Lake Sioux Tribe has now asked to intervene. Attorney Sagsveen pointed out this is a much larger case than when Garrison Diversion Conservancy District intervened. Two new
issues arise, those being the lake bed is owned in trust by the U.S. Government for the Sioux Tribe and the boundary extends into the city limits of Devils Lake.

A 12-man committee was selected by the Secretary of the Interior to review the Garrison Diversion Unit and possible alternatives.

Construction on the Lonetree Dam and James River Dike is 40 percent complete and by September 30, when funds are depleted, it should be 60 percent complete. The bid is at $12,167,864.00. Reach 1B of the New Rockford Canal, cost of about $6.3 million, is 60 percent complete and should be 75 percent complete by Sept. 30. The Oakes Pumping Plant will be about 85 percent complete by Sept. 30. The distribution system, which has a cost of $9.63 million, will be 40 percent complete by Sept. 30 and the drainage contract about 90 percent by the time construction funds are depleted.

Board drafted a resolution to indicate that reciprocity is not being practiced by Canadians in their opposition to the Garrison Diversion Unit.

December 13, 1984 – Commission hearing held on the Garrison Diversion Unit Project.

January 3-4, 1985 – Discussed the commission hearings and the resolution drafted by Audubon at the Minot hearing.

Reviewed the proposed policy statement by the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District board concerning the Garrison Diversion Unit Commission recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior.

April 4-5, 1985 – Attorney Sagsveen made reference to Senate Concurrent Resolution 4010 – designating the construction and completion of the federally authorized and funded Garrison Diversion Unit—as having first and highest priority for water development in ND.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 408 – reaffirming legislative support for the Garrison Diversion Unit and the Lonetree Reservoir, and requesting the Governor to initiate a study of the possible adverse effects of transfers of fish species, biota and pathogens from Missouri River Basin to the Hudson Bay Drainage Basin. Passed.

July 8-9, 1985 – Board approved as policy statement which urged the congressional delegation and the Governor to (1) continue discussions with National Audubon Society to develop acceptable language to implement the Garrison Diversion Unit Commission’s recommendations, (2) support language in the FY 86 appropriations bill as proposed by Senators Burdick and Andrews on July 5, and (3) introduce in Senate a bill which would authorize the Secretary to implement the commission’s recommendations as modified by State MR&I proposal. The board will not support legislation which would deauthorize any feature of the Garrison Diversion Unit.

Bureau of Reclamation reported Reach 1B of New Rockford Canal is 75 percent complete, Oakes area, including Oakes Pumping Plant, 95 percent complete and drain for first 5,000 acres is 75 percent complete. They opened bids for delivery system at a low bid of $9,345,000.

This year contained many discussions with Audubon over deauthorization of certain parts of Garrison Diversion Unit. Irrigation feature reduced from 250,000 acres to 130,000 acres and Sykeston Canal
replacing Lonetree Reservoir.

January 5-6, 1986 – Bureau of Reclamation reported construction has shut down for winter. Oakes Pumping Plant is complete except for minor items and Reach 1B of New Rockford Canal is 96 percent complete. The New Rockford office building is 35 percent complete and 25 percent of Reach 1A of the New Rockford Canal is complete. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been completed and is being review in Washington. The final is to be complete in February.

Burdick-Miller Bill (Senate Bill 1785) sometimes known as Audubon Bill. This bill deauthorized many features of our bill (repealing the 1944 Act and 1965 reauthorization) making it more of a wildlife project. It did not deauthorize Lonetree Reservoir but cut all funding to finish it. Also comparison between Lonetree and Sykeston Canal was started.

April 3-4, 1986 – Burdick-Miller Bill – National interest declaration for irrigation had been deleted and a $12 million Wetlands Trust was created. It deleted portions of the 1944 and 1965 Acts and generally adopts the Garrison Diversion Unit Commission plan recommendations for fish and wildlife. It also authorizes $200 million for MR&I.
Board approved an agreement between Garrison Diversion Conservancy District Board and State Water Commission concerning the MR&I Water Program authorized by Public Law 99-294.

April 9-10, 1987 – Attorney Sagsveen reported 101 Ranch Case trial was held in Fargo and the Judge will make a decision which won’t be done for months. Bed of Devils Lake case ruled in favor of landowners, which means we do not own the land up to the meander line but to the high water mark. The committee agreed to appeal this to Supreme Court.

Sept. 29-30, 1987 – The Mid-Dakota Reservoir was proposed around this time. It was the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District’s plan to develop a mid-size reservoir in lieu of Sykeston Canal.

Jan. 7-8, 1988 – Burleigh County petitioned into Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

July 7-8, 1988 – Board introduced a resolution making an eight-tenths mill levy on all real property within GDCD.

In the bed of Devils Lake, ownership is to be determined by the elevation of the water, but could be appealed.

The 101 Ranch case ruling is basically the same as the Bed of Devils Lake case, that being the landowners have riparian rights. The individual owns the land up to the water and the state owns that below.

Senate Bill 2328-(signed by Governor Sinner on April 12, 1989, and effective July 1, 1989) Transfers management of sovereign lands (included lakebeds of navigable rivers and lakes withi the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District) to the state engineer. The management of the underlying minerals was transferred to the land department.

July 6-7, 1989 – Attorney Sagsveen reported to the board that as of July 1, 1989, the management of lakes and streams had been transferred to the state engineer, so our responsibility with this will be less in the cases pending.


May 10, 1970 – Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the McClusky Canal. Actual construction on the McClusky Canal began May 1, 1970.

January 9-10, 1973 – Board reviewed request from Committee to Save North Dakota for an injunction to halt construction on the Garrison Diversion Unit.

March 28-29, 1973 – Board was informed the District Court denied the motion of the temporary injunction requested by the Committee to Save North Dakota. Committee to Save North Dakota appealed the denial.

July 10-11, 1973 – Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal for a temporary injunction and remanded the case back to the District Court with direction to hear evidence on any motions the Committee to Save North Dakota may file.

January 9-10, 1975 – Committee to Save North Dakota court action for temporary injunction denied. However, the request for a permanent injunction was appealed to the Circuit Court at St. Louis.

April 2-3, 1975 – House Bill 1230 passed enlarging duties and responsibilities to include administrative aid and assistance in the relocation of buildings and the replacement of land to persons affected by the development of the Garrison Diversion Unit.

October 2-3, 1975 – Senate Bill 2311 was introduced by Senator Burdick to increase the re-investment period from two to four years for those losing land to public works projects. This bill was drafted at the recommendation of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

The Board approved the following actions:

  1. Request for Congressional delegation to work on changing the relocation act to include all farm buildings.
  2. Request our Congressional delegation work on the development of legislation authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to exchange lands.
  3. Request our Congressional delegation to provide appropriations for land acquisition two years in advance of construction.

July 1-2, 1976
– A suit was filed by Audubon Society in Washington against the Bureau of Reclamation to stop construction on the Garrison Diversion Unit. Board authorized officers to take necessary actions to defend Garrison Diversion Conservancy District interests.

October 7, 1976 – Board adopted a resolution stating its policy that no land be acquired except from willing sellers for fish and wildlife mitigation. Acquisition of prime crop production land for this purpose also was barred under policy.

February 19, 1977 – Garrison Diversion Unit placed on Carter administration “hit list” and funding deleted.

March 22, 1977 – Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus holds public hearing on the Garrison Diversion Unit’s status at Jamestown.

May 11, 1977 – Stipulation and Order signed by National Audubon Society and the Secretary of the Interior staying proceedings in the case and halting most Garrison Diversion Unit construction work until a supplemental environmental impact statement could be prepared and filed with Congress.

June 16, 1977 – State of North Dakota filed petition with the Supreme Court of North Dakota seeking to force the U.S. Government to carry out its contractual responsibilities under the master contract with the State and the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

October 6, 1977 – Board meeting in Fargo reaffirmed position in favor of a 250,000-acre irrigation and multipurpose Garrison Diversion Unit Plan as authorized in 1965.

January 23, 1978 – President Carter submits proposed budget for fiscal year 1979 without funds for Garrison Diversion Unit.

August 9, 1978 – Senate passed Resolution 525 refusing President’s request to defer spending of Garrison Diversion Unit funds.

October 12, 1978 – Contract awarded for earthwork and structures for a fish screen testing facility on a turnout from the McClusky Canal, north of the City of Turtle Lake. (Test screen operated successfully during the summers of 1979, 1980 and 1981, with the water moving through the test screen freshening Lake Brekken and raising its water level to the height envisioned for recreational purposes.)

February 1, 1979 – Supplemental Draft Environmental Statement completed by Bureau of Reclamation and filed by Interior Secretary Andrus with Congress, along with proposed legislation for reauthorization of project, as stipulated by May 11, 1977 order of U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey. The proposal was never acted upon by Congress.


October 31, 1961 – Cost participation makes fish & wildlife an integral part of Garrison Diversion Unit.

April 5, 1962 – In his conservation message to Congress, President Kennedy specifically mentioned Garrison Diversion Unit as a project that should be authorized by Congress this session.

January 30-31, 1963 – House Bill 538 passed clarifying 1/10 of a mill Garrison Diversion Conservancy District Levy and the broadening of authority of Garrison Diversion Conservancy District to establish reserve funds.

February 18, 1964 – Senate approved S-178 which authorized the Garrison Diversion Unit. It eliminated local review of fish & wildlife areas and the authority to purchase all canal right-of-way.

June 24, 1964 – House Interior & Insular Affairs Committee approves Garrison Diversion Unit bill.

July 29-30, 1965 – Garrison Diversion Unit bill was passed by both House and Senate and awaits President Johnson’s signature.

August 5, 1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill authorizing Garrison Diversion Unit.

November 19, 1965 – Carrington was selected as the site for the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District headquarters.

July 14, 1968 – Groundbreaking of Snake Creek Pumping Plant.

April 10, 1969 – State legislature passed Bill 439 allowing Garrison Diversion Conservancy District to participate in research activities and allow them to cooperate with various state and federal agencies for purposes related to Garrison Diversion Unit.

1940 - 1959

December 22, 1944 – Pick-Sloan Flood Control Act was authorized in Section 9(a) of the Flood Control Act of 1944.

July 18, 1955 – First meeting of the board of directors of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District held at Harvey, with Governor Norman Brunsdale calling the meeting to order. District consisted of 22 counties.

July 21, 1955 – Resolution passed to levy tax of 1/10 mill on all real and personal property within the district boundaries, which would produce the necessary income of the $33,593 required to operate the district for the period of July 18, 1955, to December 31, 1956.

January 12, 1956 – Board passed resolution requesting legislation and appropriate funds for the establishment of development farms throughout the Garrison Diversion Project area.

February 7, 1956 – Traill County presented a petition and resolution requesting Garrison Diversion Conservancy District boundaries be modified to include Traill County. Resolution passed. 

July 12, 1956 – Decision of the board to support legislation by Congress that would provide fair reimbursement to all landowners in the project area for canal and reservoir right-of-way whether or not a reservation of such right-of-way existed under the Act of 1890.

October 10, 1956 – Richland County presented a petition and resolution requesting Garrison Diversion Conservancy District boundaries be modified to include Richland County. Resolution passed.

March 27, 1957 – Resolution passed by board modifying boundaries to include Steele County. Board agreed to have North Dakota Congressional delegation introduce legislation in Congress to reaffirm authorization for the Garrison Diversion Unit.

July 1, 1957 – Senate Bill 1932 and House Bill 7068 introduced in Congress by Senator Milton Young and Representative Krueger to modify project authorization.

October 30, 1957 – Hearings for authorization of the Garrison Diversion Unit (HR7068) scheduled for Devils Lake by the House Appropriations Committee. The hearing attracted over 2,000 supporters, and was the largest field hearing in the committee’s history.

January 27-28, 1959 – Senate Bill (SB154) passed. A bill was introduced in state legislature that would provide for election and terms of office of directors for the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District on a no- party ballot. Terms of office would be 4 years. Those taking office in 1961 would determine length by drawing lots; half to serve for two years, the remainder serving four. The same bill would amend the powers and duties of Garrison Diversion Conservancy District directors giving them the authority to become the operating organization for the Garrison Diversion Unit. It also authorized 1/10 mill levy for next 2 years.