Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Water Resources

Nothing is more important to North Dakota than water.  Whether it’s flood control or water supply projects, North Dakotans have a lot at stake. In every corner of our state, we face challenges -- from providing a stable supply of safe drinking water for our growing communities and rural water systems, to advancing permanent flood protection, aiding communities recovering from disaster, and making sure flood insurance remains affordable. 

Securing Our Water Supply

Senator Heitkamp is dedicated to making sure communities have access to clean, safe drinking water.

North Dakota is home to Lake Sakakawea, an abundant source of quality water. Yet our continued access to this water is threatened. Despite the promise North Dakota would be able to use this water to meet its needs in exchange for losing hundreds of thousands of acres of prime bottom land to the construction of the Garrison Dam, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now wants to charge North Dakota for this water. Senator Heitkamp is opposed to this effort and secured a provision in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that was signed into law that prevents the Corps from charging a fee for water from the reservoirs.   

Senator Heitkamp is also working to make sure North Dakota’s communities and rural water systems can meet their contemporary water needs. But once our small and rural communities receive a quality supply of water, they also need to have the tools to maintain that supply for their residents and businesses. Senator Heitkamp is also working to make sure communities receive the assistance they need in the most cost-effective way to improve and protect their water supplies by complying with federal rules, affording the latest technology, and accessing technical experts.

Advancing Permanent Flood Protection

Flooding is a constant threat to many North Dakota communities. Senator Heitkamp has worked to help communities, including Fargo, Grafton, Minot, Devils Lake, and others advance permanent, comprehensive flood protection systems to make sure residents and businesses are protected from flood waters.

Senator Heitkamp has long fought to make sure the federal government lives up to its responsibilities and assists the Fargo area in recovering from past flooding. She secured $35 million for the Fargo-Moorhead (FM) Area Diversion Project in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FY 2018 work plan, and in the Senate WRDA, she successfully worked to include a provision to authorize permanent flood protection to be built on certain deed-restricted properties in the Fargo area. The Army Corps awarded its first construction contract for the diversion in 2016 after Senator Heitkamp successfully secured federal support from OMB and Army Corps leaders for a Fargo construction start, in addition to critical federal funding.

Senator Heitkamp has also consistently pushed for strong federal support for flood mitigation efforts in Minot and Ward County. She successfully secured federal funds to advance the flood protection project for Minot in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The funds will help finalize a feasibility study to examine flood risk reduction options for the city. The study was made possible in 2016 after Senator Heitkamp successfully pushed the administration and Army Corps to make it a reality.

Senator Heitkamp successfully included in a congressional funding bill a provision she wrote to keep in place an existing floodwall in Valley City. Without her fix, the federal government would have forced the city to remove the floodwall – which would have reduced flood protection and cost the city a great deal.

From 1993 to 2011, Devils Lake rose more than 30 feet and quadrupled in size, highlighting the urgent need to maintain the levee protecting the city and nearby residents. Under a provision Senator Heitkamp successfully introduced in the Senate WRDA bill, the federal government would cover 75 percent of the embankment’s associated operation and maintenance costs, preventing the city from needing to cover all these costs with local tax dollars.

Aiding Flood Recovery

Senator Heitkamp is determined to make sure such communities hit hard by disasters get the assistance they deserve. Most recently, she has worked to make sure Minot and Ward Counties receive crucial disaster assistance to recover from the devastating 2011 flood, and help communities impacted in early 2013 by flood waters so they can repair public infrastructure damaged by the disaster and assist communities with the costs associated with flood fighting efforts, including emergency dikes and sandbag levees.

Keeping Flood Insurance Affordable

Senator Heitkamp helped introduce a bipartisan bill that was signed into law to delay flood insurance rate increases until the issue of affordability is addressed, preventing undue hardship on homeowners in North Dakota. The bill also includes a provision maintaining the current basement exception in North Dakota to make sure homeowners who have taken proactive measures to flood proof their basements receive credit for this work when their flood insurance rates are calculated. Without this provision, flood insurance rates in these areas could be upward $10,000 a year, effectively pricing families out of their homes.