The Current April 2020 - Issue II

A Newsletter From The State Engineer & State Water Commission

Garland Erbele, P.E. State Engineer & Chief Engineer-Secretary


It was a bittersweet moment in January when I announced my retirement after serving nearly four years in North Dakota as the State Engineer. It has been a tremendous honor to work for this great state.

The State Water Commission appointed me as North Dakota’s 18th State Engineer in April 2016. I was selected as Chief Engineer and Secretary to the Water Commission due to my 40 years of experience in water management and my background as an environmental engineer. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to work with the Commission and Administration.

During my time at the Water Commission, I was surrounded by an outstanding team of people. The entire staff administers such care, diligence, and perception in the development of every project. The agency has truly made instrumental and technological advances in how they collect, monitor, utilize, and disseminate data. PRESENS, NDRAM, and AEM surveys are just a few recent examples of the innovative and noteworthy programs that I have been privileged to be a part of. The Water Commission is doing considerable work that impacts every single North Dakotan.

After announcing my retirement, Governor Burgum reached out and had these kind words to share. "We are deeply grateful for Garland’s consistent leadership, thoughtfulness, and responsible management of North Dakota’s substantial water resources in a way that improved the quality of life for all North Dakotans. As State Engineer, he oversaw many important and impactful developments, from major flood protection and water supply projects to the innovative North Dakota Risk Assessment Map Service. We thank Garland for his four decades of public service, including his time in North Dakota as State Engineer, and we wish him all the best in his retirement."

The role of State Engineer has provided me with many success stories and I am extremely grateful to have worked alongside such a dedicated group of professionals who care so deeply about the future of water in North Dakota. The work we do, each and every day, will touch the lives of many future generations.

I retired on Tuesday, March 31. Thank you for the good fortune of allowing me a life that has been spent in water management and development. It has been my privilege to serve the State of North Dakota. I would like to sincerely thank my family, friends, and staff who have supported me along the way and throughout my career.

John Paczkowski, P.E., CFM

Burgum appoints John Paczkowski as interim director of State Water Commission and Office of the State Engineer

Governor Burgum announced at the Water Commission meeting in February, that John Paczkowski will serve as interim director of the North Dakota State Water Commission and Office of the State Engineer, effective Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

Paczkowski previously served as the Assistant State Engineer and worked in that role since 2016. Prior to being named Assistant State Engineer, Paczkowski served as Director of the Regulatory Division and Chief of the Regulatory Section. He has also worked in the Investigations Section of the Water Development Division, and was Project Manager for the Water Use Data Collection Program in the Water Appropriations Division. He has vast experience and knowledge in both water management and water development efforts throughout the state. Paczkowski has been employed with the Water Commission since 1991.

Commissioner Jay Volk

Commissioner’s Corner

A Bismarck/Mandan native, I grew up enjoying the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea, and at a young age formed a deep respect for some of our state’s deepest treasures: air, water, and soils. A respect that shaped my values regarding the wise use of our resources, and was foundational to my educational and career paths.

A respect that also taught me how quickly things can change and how important water, or lack thereof, is to the state. Reflecting back, I grew up fishing on Lake Sakakawea and remember the very low water levels in the early 1990s, only to see an unprecedented 35-foot swing in water - replenishing the reservoir in 1994. In 1997, I lived in Fargo and had to take canoes down our residential streets to our sandbagged homes. In 2008, I was excited to see Harmon Lake construction completed and anxiously waited for it to be filled over the next few years. Surprisingly, it filled with water in a just a few short weeks the following spring. And finally, I found my community sandbagging again in 2011, a common theme across ND that year. I lived along the Missouri River and what I learned are that things change fast, but to develop a plan for the future takes time!

I have a PhD from NDSU (Go Bison) which focused on landscape restoration as it relates to vegetation, soils, hydrology, and land use. I have had my “boots on the ground” across the majority of ND as I spent numerous years working on research projects as well as consulting. For the last 15 years, I have been at BNI Coal (Manager – Health, Safety, & Environmental Services).

Being recently appointed by Governor Doug Burgum to the State Water Commission, I look forward to diving into areas the Commission, State Engineer, and staff have started to build and already have a great foundation. For me, there are four main areas where I want to get up to speed quickly and influence. They are:

Understanding - As a new commissioner there is plenty to learn as it comes to the water related needs of the State, regions, and individual communities; in which I have appreciated the phone calls, meetings, and discussions with many of you to date. Likewise, I look forward to future opportunities that will emphasize my “boots on the ground” mentality to better understand the projects as they are being planned, budgeted, and developed, as well as, how the policies and guidelines align with the process.

Projecting Tomorrow’s Needs - Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” North Dakota has a historic opportunity to “Do what we can” with the funds “We have” allocated to water development through the Resources Trust Fund, which are timely with the investment needs of tomorrow respective to growth, regionalization, flood control, and aging infrastructure. The State Engineer and staff have started the process of identifying the long-term infrastructure needs across the state, and projecting the timing and expenses associated with them. As this long-term forecast matures, it will become a key part of decision-making and prioritization as it relates to the state’s needs; a process I am very excited to be a part of.

Prioritizing - The State Water Commission has some great tools to help prioritize funding of projects including: life cycle and economic analysis, DEQ rankings, and evaluating alternative options, to name a few. Project prioritization will never be easy, but with new perspectives, ideas, and additional data sets becoming available, this process will continue to improve, assuring the most efficient and effective use of our state’s dollars. Additionally, I am excited to discuss how short-term and long-term priorities come together. And more so, how outside-the-box opportunities could potentially bring added value to a region if additional resources are available.

Funding - I continue to be impressed with the level of funding allocated through the Resources Trust Fund and the quality of projects North Dakota has completed to date. To no surprise, there are more projects than funds, with some large projects on the horizon. The fact of the matter is some projects will not get funded, but that too will be a healthy debate, and one I look forward to participating in. As George S. Patton once said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

I look forward to partnering with you in helping promote the successful management and development of North Dakota’s water resources.

Reminder: Water Development Plan Submission Deadline

Potential project sponsors seeking to be included in the 2021 Water Development Plan are asked to submit project information before May 20, 2020. This biennium, project information is being collected exclusively via electronic submission. The electronic form can be found at our website (swc.nd.gov) under the heading “2021 Water Development Plan.” Projects that are identified in the state’s Water Development Plan are considered/prioritized for funding ahead of those that are not.

In addition to new projects that may require SWC cost-share in the future, projects that were included in the 2019 or previous Water Development Plans must also submit updated information to be included in the 2021 Plan. As in the past, the input gained through the planning process will become the foundation of the SWC’s budget request to the Governor and Legislature. Questions or concerns can be directed to Jared Huibregtse at (701) 328-4967.

New Hires

Karl Pereira, Hydrologist II

In December 2019, Karl Pereira joined the Water Commission as a Hydrologist II in the Water Appropriations Division. He will be assigned a project area, and will be responsible for reviewing permits, preparing reports, and making recommendations. Karl has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India. He has also earned two Master of Science degrees: one in Geology from St. Xavier’s, and one in Hydrology from the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he recently graduated . While at the University of Arizona, Karl worked part time with the Pima County Regional Flood Control District on an independent study evaluating changes in infiltration of the Santa Cruz River resulting from flood control modifications.

Karl is originally from Mumbai, where most of his family still resides. His first time in North Dakota was when he moved here in early December. He enjoys soccer, and played on the varsity ping-pong team during high school.

Kate Kelly, Dam Safety Engineer

In January, Kate Kelly joined the Regulatory Division’s Dam Safety Section as a Dam Safety Engineer. Among other duties, Kate will review dam permits, perform inspections on existing dams, and manage the dam inventory via the agency’s Structures Database. Kate holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in Troy, NY, as well as a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Idaho. Her graduate research focused on the properties of soil prone to liquefaction, and she is happy to provide a technical perspective on the River Road landslide in Bismarck if anyone is interested.

Kate most recently worked for Terracon in Bismarck, where she worked on everything from foundation and earthen structure designs, to forensic investigations. She has also previously worked for Kadrmas, Lee, & Jackson and American Engineering Testing, both in Dickinson, where she performed a number of different duties such as plan and specifications drafting, wetland delineations, culvert design, and soil technician work. Kate is originally from State College, Pennsylvania, and she loves her adopted dog Lilly, whom she is very proud of. Her primary hobby is playing adult league hockey here in Bismarck in the winter, and hiking and running in the warmer times of the year. Finally, she has a collection of rocks and fossils found during fieldwork in her work area that all are welcome to see.

Williston Radar Map

New Doppler Weather Radar at Williston Basin International Airport

Northwest North Dakota now has a new tool to help identify rain, hail, and snow. A weather radar located at the Williston Basin International Airport (XWA) now provides lower atmospheric coverage of storms and precipitation in a region underserved by National Weather Service (NWS) radars located near Minot and Glasgow, MT. The radar is funded by a Williams County sales tax dedicated to public safety projects and came online in March.

Beyond the usual capabilities of weather radars, the Williams County radar has dual-polarization technology, which provides better estimates of rainfall and the ability to identify hail falling from thunderstorms. Dual-pol data will benefit the operations of the North Dakota Cloud Modification Project, which seeds clouds to enhance rainfall and reduce hail damage in Williams, McKenzie, Mountrail, and Ward counties. The radar’s Doppler capabilities will allow for the measurement of strong winds and improve meteorologists’ ability to identify tornadoes and warn the public.

Staff from the SWC Atmospheric Resource Division have provided assistance to Williams County through the process of getting the new radar in place, specifically regarding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing and permitting requirements. The SWC will also play a significant role once the radar is operational. Radar data will be sent to the agency in real-time and displayed on the SWC website, along with radars operated by Atmospheric Resources in Bowman and Stanley, making the agency a one-stop shop for weather radar data in western North Dakota. In addition, the data will be reformatted and made available to the NWS offices in Bismarck, Billings, and Glasgow for use by their meteorologists, assisting with weather forecasts and severe weather warnings.

Real-time data from Bowman can be found on the SWC website. Stanley (summer), and Williams County radar data will be available soon.


On behalf of the Water Commission, we would like to thank Roger Kolling for his commendable years of service to the people of North Dakota. Roger was employed with the Water Commission for over twenty-two years, and worked as a Realty Officer in the Water Development Division.

Roger has continually demonstrated superlative communication skills, exhibited confidence and understanding in his role with the agency, and displayed diligent efforts regarding his work with the Southwest Pipeline Project, NAWS, and the Devils Lake Outlets.

Roger has enjoyed his career at the Water Commission and especially the long-standing relationships he has established. After retiring, he is anticipating a lot of travel plans with his wife Mardell. They love the beach lifestyle in Jamaica, and can’t wait to spend more time there. Roger is also looking forward to visiting his daughter Jennifer, who resides near Bozeman, MT.

Drought Disaster Livestock Assistance Program Deactivated

The Drought Disaster Livestock Assistance Program (DDLAP) was deactivated by the Water Commission on December 6, 2019. The deactivation was recommended and approved because there are no longer any areas within the state experiencing severe drought conditions.

At the time of deactivation, all currently approved applicants were given a final deadline of June 17, 2020 for project completions. All receipts/invoices submitted for reimbursement must have dates reflecting June 17, 2020 or prior.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Steve Best at (701) 328-4970.

The following are links to recent Water Commission meeting cost-share approvals.