The Current A Newsletter from the Department of Water Resources - October 2021 – Issue IV

Andrea Travnicek, Ph.D., Director – Water Resources

A Letter From The Director

As I transition into the new role of Director for the Department of Water Resources, I am truly excited to be working with all the various partners, project sponsors, and constituents that are impacted by the management of water and funding decisions that are made through this agency.

As the newly appointed Director of the Department of Water Resources, I have spent the past few months learning about the interworkings of the agency, focusing on branding the recently renamed department, collaborating with staff and Commission members, hiring the state engineer, and interacting with stakeholders and constituents across North Dakota and the Nation.

The Department of Water Resources is responsible for allocation of the state’s waters, dam safety, sovereign land management, drainage permitting, and water project funding and development. I am honored to continue serving the great State of North Dakota in this new role and look forward to continue pursuing Governor Burgum’s initiatives of empowering people, improving lives, and inspiring success. I look forward to connecting with the water community and would like to take this time to share a bit about myself.

I grew up in a military family and spent my childhood in numerous states including, California, Texas, Nebraska, and North Dakota. I graduated from Papillion La-Vista High School in Omaha, Nebraska, but spent much time in Minot where my dad served as a B-52 pilot for three tours at the Minot Air Force Base. My parents are still in Minot today.

I am a proud NDSU alum and earned my bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in natural resources management from the University and played soccer for the Bison. I currently serve as a member of the NDSU Foundation and Alumni Association Board of Trustees. In my free time, I enjoy attending NDSU football games and other sporting events, attending concerts, traveling, and exploring the outdoors through hiking and kayaking.

In my previous career endeavors, I served for over six years as Senior Policy Advisor of Natural Resources for North Dakota’s Governor Hoeven and Governor Dalrymple. After that, I relocated to Washington D.C. and served for nearly three years at the U.S. Department of the Interior serving in various leadership roles that included overseeing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the USGS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. In May 2020, I moved back to North Dakota after being appointed by Governor Burgum as the Director for the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department.

As the Director of the Department of Water Resources, I will be working with our team to achieve overall goals of being accessible and responsive to the water community and individuals seeking information and decisions as we strive to fulfill our mission of improving the quality of life and strengthen the economy of North Dakoka by managing the water resources of the state for the benefit of its people.

Over the next few months the Department will be working to approve dollars realized through the 67th Legislative Session through State Water Commission meetings held in October and December. In addition, the Department will be working with the Governor’s Office and the Legislative Assembly as the Department shows support for the Governor’s Accelerate ND plan that includes a $50 million investment of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to advance strategic water infrastructure projects.

The department’s 21-23 budget included $402 million through the Resources Trust Fund for new water projects across the state. These funds will be used towards projects such as reliable, sustainable, water supply and flood protection efforts. The department works hard with project sponsors to identify needs on a biennial basis to plan for the wise use of Resource Trust dollars. To address a longer-term horizon, the Department has developed estimates of $2.5 billion in needs across the state over a 10-year period. However, the agency’s budgeting and planning efforts do not always include those potential water projects that may materialize once the planning process is completed. Often times, these projects are economic development investors looking to locate somewhere in the state based on incentives and water availability. The opportunity to discuss the use of federal ARPA funds to advance strategic water infrastructure projects including major water distritution systems immediately is timely as there are several needs that can be addressed now with those funds.

Again, I am excited to serve as Director of the Department of Water Resources and am looking forward to managing the state’s diverse and important water resources for North Dakota and working with the dedicated team at the DWR. If you have any questions or concerns at any time do not hesitate to reach out to me or DWR team members.

John Paczkowski, P.E.

Paczkowski Named As State Engineer For The Department Of Water Resources

On October 6, Andrea Travnicek, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Water Resources, announced John Paczkowski as State Engineer for the Department of Water Resources, noting his considerable dedication, strong leadership, and vast knowledge of North Dakota’s water resources.

Paczkowski is a long-standing employee with the agency and has served the state since 1991 in various roles including, Interim State Engineer, Assistant State Engineer, Director of the Regulatory Division, and Project Manager for the Appropriation Division. He has a well-established career with the agency and has tremendous experience and knowledge in both water management and water development efforts throughout North Dakota.

“I am looking forward to working with John on the many water-related challenges and exciting opportunities we have before us in North Dakota today. Throughout his career, he has been involved in a multitude of water-related regulatory and development issues. His comprehensive understanding regarding the important management of the state’s water resources will continue to be an invaluable asset to the state, and its citizens,” said Travnicek, DWR Director.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR), formerly the State Water Commission, was restructured and renamed due to the passage of House Bill 1353 during the 2021 legislative session. The appointed Director, Andrea Travnicek, provides overall leadership and decision-making, has hiring responsibilities, and oversees the State Engineer and the agency’s divisions and staff.

“I would like to express sincere gratitude with my acceptance of the State Engineer position at the Department of Water Resources,” said Paczkowski. “Water is a great passion of mine and I am honored to continue serving North Dakota, working with the dedicated staff at the Department of Water Resources, and collaborating with the Governor’s Office, Legislature, and the many exceptional folks involved in the water community.”

The Department Of Water Resources – New Name, Same Vision

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) was created in 2021 by Legislative action with the passage of House Bill (HB) 1353. Effective August 1, 2021, HB 1353:

  • Reorganized the Office of the State Engineer and the State Water Commission.
  • Changed the agency name to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).
  • Added an agency director, Andrea Travnicek, Ph.D., who was appointed by Governor Burgum, making the agency a Member of the Governor’s Cabinet.
  • Placed the State Engineer and associated regulatory roles into a division within the DWR.

The DWR has the authority to investigate, plan, construct, and develop water-related projects, and serves as a mechanism to financially support those efforts throughout North Dakota. There are six divisions that make up the DWR: Administration, Atmospheric Resources, Planning and Education, Regulatory, Water Appropriation, and Water Development.

Several functions and regulations are administered by the DWR, including allocation of the state’s waters, dam safety, sovereign land management, drainage permitting, and water project funding and development. The agency will continue to provide valuable services to North Dakota and preserve the integrity of the agency’s mission which is to improve the quality of life and strengthen the economy of North Dakota by managing the water resources of the state for the benefit of its citizens.

For additional information, please visit the agency’s website at our new web address www.dwr.nd.gov.

Commissioners By Basin

Welcome Commissioners

At a special Commission meeting held on July 30, 2021, Governor Doug Burgum appointed four new members to the North Dakota State Water Commission, and also reappointed four existing members. The primary function of the Water Commission is to review and consider cost-share requests from project sponsors seeking financial assistance from the Department of Water Resources. The Commission may also provide for the issuance of bonds as allowed by statute.

The Water Commission consists of the Governor as chairman, the Commissioner of Agriculture as an ex-officio member, and eight members who are appointed by the Governor to serve terms of six years each. The terms of office for appointees are arranged such that two terms and not more than three terms shall expire on the first day of July of each odd numbered year. Each appointed member represents one of the eight major drainage basins in North Dakota. The eight appointed members are listed below.

Commissioner Michael Anderson

Commissioner Michael Anderson

Lower Red River Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2027

Michael is the Vice President of the Traill Rural Water Board of Directors, a former banker, and is a farmer in Hillsboro, ND. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus on management in finance from Texas Christian University. Michael has been a member of the Commission since 2017.

Commissioner Richard Johnson

Commissioner Richard Johnson

Devils Lake Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2025

Richard has been involved with flood fighting efforts in the Devils Lake region for more than 20 years and has served on the State Water Commission since 2017. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in education from Mayville State University and is currently retired. Since 2010, Richard has served as the President (Mayor) of the Devils Lake City Commission.

Commissioner James Odermann

Commissioner James Odermann

Little Missouri, Upper Heart, and Upper Cannonball

Term expires: June 30, 2025

James resides in Billings County, north of Belfield where he and his family raise organically certified beef. He enjoys ranching and is a graduate of Dickinson State University. James was elected to the Southwest Water Authority (SWA) board of directors in 1996 and has been a member on the executive committee since 2010. He currently serves as chairperson on SWA’s board.

Commissioner Connie Ova

Commissioner Connie Ova

James River Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2025

Connie serves as the Chief Executive Officer with the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation (JSDC). She has been instrumental in developing partnerships among many community entities and is responsible for formulation and implementation strategies regarding development in the region. Connie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration/Management and a passion for economic development.

Commissioner Gene Veeder

Commissioner Gene Veeder

Upper Missouri River Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2027

Gene owns and operates a third-generation ranch in McKenzie County. He has served on numerous boards, including the McKenzie County Job Development Authority, the McKenzie County Water Resource District, Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWSA) board, the Badlands Advisory Group, the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, and the McKenzie County Commission. Gene holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Dakota and a Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University.

Commissioner Jay Volk

Commissioner Jay Volk

Lower Missouri River Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2025

Jay is employed as the Environment and Safety Manager at BNI Coal at the mine headquarters in Bismarck. Jay earned a Ph.D. from North Dakota State University with an emphasis on landscape restoration as it relates to soils, hydrology, and land use. He has served on various boards including the Mandan School Board and was appointed as a member of the State Water Commission in 2019. He is also a member of the North Dakota Board of Registration for Professional Soil Classifiers. Jay has invaluable experience in fiscal management, long-term strategy planning, and policy administration.

Commissioner April Walker

Commissioner April Walker

Upper Red River Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2023

April is a Professional Engineer and a Certified Floodplain Manager. She currently resides in West Fargo and is the owner of A. Walker Consulting. April is knowledgeable in floodplain management, emergency flood response, and mitigation. She previously worked as the City Engineer in Fargo and has vast experience in development and infrastructure. In her role as a consultant, April has collaborated with various organizations, Tribal Nations, and government entities. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the FM Area Foundation and is a board member for the International Red River Watershed Board, serving as an indigenous representative for the U.S. portion of the basin.

Commissioner Jason Zimmerman

Commissioner Jason Zimmerman

Mouse River Basin

Term expires: June 30, 2023

Jason was appointed to the State Water Commission in 2017. He is a third-generation Minot native and previously served as the City of Minot’s flood recovery coordinator following the 2011 flood. Jason obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead and has previous experience as a business banking officer. He previously served as a member of the Ward County Water Board and is a current member of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2020, Jason was named President of the Minot Area Community Foundation.

Thank You

Thank You Commissioners

The State Water Commission and Department of Water Resources would like to express sincere gratitude and recognize outgoing Commission members Katie Hemmer of Jamestown, Mark Owan of Williston, Matthew Pedersen of Valley City, and Steven Schneider of Dickinson for their service to the Commission and the State of North Dakota.

The Commissioners demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting water resource management, provided feedback on water development projects, addressed several key flood protection and water supply issues, and offered valuable insight throughout their time on the State Water Commission.

Collaborative Assistance Programs Support North Dakota Producers

North Dakota is faced with an ongoing and unprecedented drought in 2021. According to U.S. Drought Monitor data as of late September, about 92% of the state was still in severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

In severe drought conditions, agriculture producers can face immense hardships such as crop, livestock, and pasture loss. At the April 8, 2021, Water Commission meeting, the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Program (DDLWSP) was reactivated in response to severe drought conditions across North Dakota, and in support of an emergency declaration issued that day by Governor Burgum. To help farmers and ranchers endure North Dakota’s worst drought conditions in nearly 30 years – a total of $6.1 million has been allocated to date to the DDLWSP through multiple approvals.

The DDLWSP provides 50% cost-share assistance of up to $4,500 per project, with a maximum of three projects per eligible applicant. Eligible project items include new water wells; rural water system connections; pipeline extensions; pasture taps and associated works; and labor, materials, and equipment rentals for work completed by the producer to develop new, drought-resilient water supply projects.

To be eligible, a livestock producer must receive at least 50% of their annual gross income from farming or ranching. In addition, the projects must be located in eligible counties, which are those categorized as, or adjacent to, D3 (Extreme Drought) classified counties in the U.S. Drought Monitor. Currently, all North Dakota counties are eligible for assistance under the DDLWSP. Since its reactivation, over 1,200 projects have been approved for almost 900 producers through DWR’s DDLWSP.

Due to exceedingly difficult drought conditions across the state, the Department of Water Resources, North Dakota’s Stockmen’s Association, the Department of Agriculture, state legislators, and the Governor’s Office worked to advance support for two additional drought mitigation programs. During a special Water Commission meeting on July 30, 2021, $2 million was approved from the DWR’s Legislatively appropriated discretionary funding for the newly-developed Emergency Water Supply Program (EWSP). The EWSP reimburses producers for eligible costs incurred for temporary water supplies, equipment, and water hauling. The Department of Agriculture administers the program and forwards approved expenses to DWR for reimbursement.

At that same special meeting, the Commission also approved $1 million from General Water purpose funds for the Permanent Trust Lands Water Supply Program (PTLWSP), which was pre-existing and supports the installation of ground water wells, pasture taps, and water pipelines on state-owned trust lands leased for grazing. This program is managed and administered by the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands

Through the PTLWSP, the Department of Trust Lands can cost-share up to $11,100 for water wells, $1,575 for rural water pasture taps, and $5,600 for water pipelines that originate from a water source on trust land.

For more information:

Governor Burgum Unveils Accelerate ND Plan; Announces $105 Million For Critical Infrastructure in North Dakota

Governor Doug Burgum

On September 30, Governor Burgum unveiled his Accelerate ND plan containing his executive recommendations to the state Legislature for strategically investing federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As part of the plan, the governor also proposed using a portion of the state’s near-record ending fund balance from the 2019-21 budget to provide an estimated $207 million of income tax relief over two years, support economic development and provide long-term cost savings to North Dakota taxpayers, all without raising taxes.

ARPA was approved by Congress in March 2021, allocating a total of $3.2 billion to North Dakota. Approximately, $1.85 billion was dedicated to economic impact payments to individuals and program grants to specific entities, while $242 million is going directly to cities and counties.

The State of North Dakota received the remainder of the funds in the form of $1.008 billion in ARPA State Fiscal Relief funds and $113 million in ARPA Coronavirus Capital Projects funds, for a total of $1.12 billion in ARPA funds designated for distribution by the state.

Furthermore, Governor Burgum noted that $423 million of that $1.12 billion, or 38%, already has been appropriated: Last spring, the Legislature authorized $317 million for transportation infrastructure and $106 million for capital projects if federal funding could be identified and if the projects fell within the allowable uses under federal guidelines. Burgum is recommending the Legislature reauthorize those appropriations.

With the remaining $697 million in unappropriated ARPA funds, the governor is recommending investments in three core areas:

  • $326 million for workforce and economic development
  • $237 million for infrastructure and capital improvements
  • $134 million for emergency response, health care and citizen service efficiency

When looking at the entire $1.12 billion, including the items already appropriated by the Legislature, the Accelerate ND plan calls for investing a total of:

  • $396 million in workforce and economic development
  • $590 million in infrastructure and capital improvements
  • $134 million in emergency response, health care and citizen service efficiency

Governor Burgum provided examples and key investments in each category and noted $105 million for critical water infrastructure in North Dakota. Details are stated in the Accelerate ND plan.

Burgum said investing ARPA dollars now will help address immediate needs, avoid inflation and rising construction costs – allowing contracts to be bid this winter for the 2022 construction season – and help North Dakota stay competitive with other states deploying their ARPA dollars for infrastructure and to address workforce shortages.

For additional information regarding the American Rescue Plan Act, please visit www.nd.gov.

DWR To Transition To WebGrants Portal For Cost-Share & Loan Applications

In an effort to provide a one-stop-shop opportunity to project sponsors seeking funding assistance for water development projects, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) will be transitioning its funding application process to the State of North Dakota’s WebGrants portal over the coming months.

For the December 10, 2021, State Water Commission (SWC) meeting, sponsors are still able to apply for cost-share assistance via the traditional application process. In addition, sponsors can also choose to apply via the state’s WebGrants portal. For the February 23, 2022, SWC meeting, applications will only be accepted through WebGrants.

Within North Dakota’s WebGrants portal, there are several program areas of interest – from education and child nutrition, to recreation and water. Sponsors seeking funding for water development projects through DWR’s traditional Cost-Share Program will choose the “Funding for Infrastructure in North Dakota” (FIND) option/opportunity. The FIND opportunity was developed through a cooperative effort involving the Bank of North Dakota, Public Finance Authority (PFA), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and DWR. As such, applications submitted to FIND via the WebGrants portal can be reviewed for eligibility through the following entities and programs.

Bank of North Dakota

  • Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund
  • Water Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund

Department of Environmental Quality

  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program
  • Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Program

Public Finance Authority

  • Capital Financing Program

Department of Water Resources

  • Cost-Share Program
  • Water Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund

To apply for funding through WebGrants and FIND, applicants must first establish a North Dakota login and account. If you are a potential water project sponsor, or you have clients that are water project sponsors, you will want to proceed with establishing a North Dakota login account in the near future if you don’t already have one.

If you have questions about the Department of Water Resources transition to the WebGrants portal for cost-share and loan applications. Or, if you have general technical questions related to the WebGrants platform, please call (701)-328-4989 or email DWR cost-share staff at dwrcostshare@nd.gov.

2021 Governor’s Awards For Excellence In Public Service

On September 9, Governor Doug Burgum announced the recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Public Service. The awards recognized team members for their dedicated work in state government by making a positive difference in the lives of North Dakota citizens and providing distinguished and invaluable services during an extremely challenging year.

More than 900 nominations were received this year which showcases a true testament to staff members’ exceptional work, outstanding innovation, and creative approaches in support of Team North Dakota’s shared purpose to empower people, improve Lives, and inspire success. The full list of awards and recipients can be viewed here.

The Department of Water Resources would like to congratulate the statewide recipients on their outstanding achievements. We would also like to recognize the DWR’s exceptional team members on their nominations and express gratitude for staff’s remarkable dedication and exemplary efforts. Congratulations to the following DWR team members on being nominated for the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Public Service: Chris Bader, Rod Bassler, Chris Colby, Pat Fridgen, Sheila Fryer, Karen Heinert, Laura Horner, Jared Huibregtse, Dawn Martin, Jennifer Martin, Jeffrey Mattern, Dan McDonald III, Paul Moen, Andrew Nygren, John Paczkowski, Duane Pool, and Jessie Wald.

Water Commission Approves Funding For Water Projects Statewide

At the North Dakota State Water Commission meeting chaired by Governor Burgum on August 12, the Commission approved $95.9 million in cost-share requests. Of that total, $21.4 million was from Legislative appropriations included in the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) budget bill, House Bill 1020, and $74.5 million was from the infrastructure bonding bill, House Bill 1431. The Commission voted to approve funding for several municipal and rural water supply, flood control, and general water projects across the state.

The Water Commission supports local sponsors in development of sustainable water-related projects in North Dakota through the DWR Cost-Share Program. The primary purpose of the DWR Cost-Share Program is to assist local project sponsors with financial support of water development projects – making them more affordable to local constituents.

“These critical infrastructure projects will meet essential needs in our communities and make them more resilient against flooding and droughts,” Burgum said. “We are grateful to the Legislature for the legislation that reorganized and refocused the Department of Water Resources, and to the oil and gas industry, which provides 100% of the Resources Trust Fund revenue that makes these projects possible.”

The largest cost-share approval at the August 12 Commission meeting included $84.5 million for the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project (MREFPP). Since the devastating Mouse River basin flood events of 2011, the state has committed over $318 million toward the advancement of the MREFPP to protect Minot, rural areas, and other communities along the Mouse River from future flood-related impacts.

“The State of North Dakota has made unprecedented progress on water development projects in the last several biennia. With continued support from our Legislature, the Governor’s Office, local project sponsors, and the State Water Commission, North Dakota is well-positioned to continue making advancements in critical water infrastructure in all areas of the state,” said Andrea Travnicek, Director of the Department of Water Resources.

The next Water Commission meeting is scheduled on Thursday, October 14 in the Pioneer Room at the State Capitol. Commission meetings will be held in person and virtually. Please visit DWR’s website for the agenda and meeting information at www.dwr.nd.gov.

State Water Commission Meeting Approvals