Hoeven: Senate Passes Water Resources Development Act

Senator Secured Measures to Prohibit Missouri River Surplus Water Fees & Address Recreation Area Maintenance, Including for Lake Oahe and Lake Sakakawea

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Committee, today helped pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, which includes the following North Dakota priorities that he worked to advance:

  • Permanently extends a provision Hoeven originally secured in the 2014 WRDA bill that prohibits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from charging storage fees for water drawn from the Missouri River.
    • Hoeven had initially introduced his legislation as a standalone bill, the States’ Water Rights Act
  • Addresses deferred maintenance for recreation areas on Corps land. 
    • This builds on Hoeven’s efforts to ensure the Corps improves recreation areas, including repairs for boat ramps to ensure lake access, around Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe.
  • Extends authorization for the Corps’ Section 594 rural water program.
    • Hoeven has prioritized this program in annual appropriations bills to help smaller communities in North Dakota make needed improvements to their water and sewer systems.

“We worked to ensure this legislation supports important priorities for North Dakota and helps further advance water development projects in our state, like the Red River Valley Water Supply Project,” Hoeven said. “Importantly, this bill protects our state’s water rights by permanently prohibiting the Army Corps from charging states for water drawn from the Missouri River. At the same time, we continue working to ensure the Army Corps addresses maintenance needs at recreation areas around Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe, and the language we’ve included in WRDA requires the Corps to develop a plan to do just that.”

Recreation Area Repairs 

Specifically, the legislation passed today requires the Corps to report to Congress on:

  • The investments needed to support recreational activities on Corps lands.
  • A plan to pay for deferred maintenance projects at Corps recreational areas.
  • Efforts to coordinate with state and local officials to improve recreational areas and facilities.

Hoeven has repeatedly raised this issue to Corps officials, including in a letter to Army Corps Chief Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon and in meetings with Col. Mark Himes, Commander of the Army Corps’ Omaha District, and Col. Geoffrey Van Epps, Commander of the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Among other efforts, Hoeven has worked with the Corps to appoint a drought coordinator, establish a regional general permit to expedite drought-related projects and secure funding to repair Corps-owned ramps and related infrastructure.

Prior to this, Hoeven worked to include report language in annual appropriations legislation directing the Corps to work with local stakeholders on a long-term sustainable plan to restore and maintain recreational facilities near Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe.