U.S. Water News Online
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Gov. John Hoeven is ready to go to
court to force Manitoba to finish building culverts that would ease
flooding in northeastern North Dakota, an aide to the governor says.
First, though, the governor will take the issue to the state Water
Commission, which meets March 10 in Bismarck, adviser Lance Gaebe
Hoeven met in Bismarck with state Sen. Tom Trenbeath, R-Cavalier,
and Cavalier attorney Neil Fleming to discuss Manitoba's refusal to
put culverts in an earthen barrier that state residents say prevents
flooding in Manitoba but inundates cropland south of the border.
State officials believe Manitoba hopes it can use the issue to
persuade North Dakota to abandon construction of the Devils Lake
outlet, which Manitoba fears would pollute its waters. But Hoeven
said Manitoba signed an agreement in 2002 to build the culverts with
financial help from North Dakota.
After reviewing the agreement, the governor decided a lawsuit was
the best option, said his adviser, Lance Gaebe.
"From our quick review, it's a breach of contract," Gaebe said.
"(Hoeven) is promoting that we take legal action and get Canada to
fulfill their end of the agreement."
The Pembina County Water Resource District Board, which is
represented by Fleming, has filed a suit against Manitoba in
provincial court, arguing that the earthen barrier at the border is
illegal. Manitoba residents call it a road but North Dakotans call it
Separately, Manitoba has sued North Dakota over the Devils Lake
outlet, which Canadian officials say will pollute Lake Winnipeg and
increase nutrient levels. The state is building the outlet to ease
Devils Lake flooding.
Manitoba also has sued to stop the Northwest Area Water Supply
project, which would bring Missouri River water to northwestern North
"The province of Manitoba is quick to sue North Dakota over
projects like Northwest Area Water Supply and the Devils Lake outlet,
so I guess we're not afraid to sue or take other legal action from
something they agreed to do by contract," Gaebe said.
The Devils Lake project was already under way when Manitoba
officials agreed to build culverts, he said.
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