Persistent drought has water well drillers booked solid for 2-years

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Since Governor Burgum's drought disaster declaration in April, ND Water Commission has approved 503 applications from cattle producers for water projects and has almost used up the $2 million allocated budget

Recent rain has been beneficial for North Dakota’s drought conditions, but hasn’t been enough to make a significant impact for cattle producers.

KX News reported on the details of the persistent drought and how it is impacting the growing season and ranchers.

A majority of North Dakota cattle producers rely on dugouts or stock dams for their cattle’s drinking water, but those sources rely on surface water runoff, which North Dakota has had very little of over the past year-and-a-half.

For today’s KX Ag and Energy Insight, we look at how the State Water Commission is helping ranchers with funding for permanent and sustainable water sources on their pasture lands.

State Water Commission Water Resource Planner Jared Huibregtse from explained that the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program got activated when the Governor Burgum declared a statewide drought disaster emergency in April.

“What this program focuses on is permanent, sustainable water supplies, like hooking into rural water and running a pipeline into your pasture, or drilling a new well in your pasture. The main goal is to have a long-term supply so that the next time we have a drought like this, these folks don’t have to worry about it,” explains Jared Huibregtse.

The State Water Commission is reimbursing cattle producers 50% of the cost, or up to $4,500 dollars per project, and producers can apply for up to three projects.

Huibregtse says, “In the big scheme of things it’s not a large amount of money per producers but we’re seeing a lot of thankful people out there, you know helping to cover even half their cost to get some permanent water supply to their cattle has been a big help for a lot of folks.”

So far the State Water Commission has approved 503 applications.

Leroy Gregory, based out of Dickinson, has been drilling water wells for 46 years. He says he’s always busy, but never this busy.

KX News reached out to other water well drillers in North Dakota and Minnesota and some say they’re scheduled out up to two years.

“We’ve been exceptionally busy, we are busy but it put a heavier load on this year because of the drought, and such a big area in different states, South Dakota’s dry, Montana, other places. But, you know do the best we can to accommodate everybody,” saYS Gregory Water and Energy President.

Gregory says he wishes cattle producers could get even more financial help.

“Yeah, because if you put in so many miles of pipeline, forty-five hundred dollars doesn’t go very far. You know when you’re spending probably $30-40-thousand or even more than that,” explains Gregory.

The Governor and the State Water Commission put $2 million dollars into the program and they are getting close to running out of that allocated amount of money.

But they encourage cattle producers to still apply.

“In the event that we do run out we still encourage folks to apply, because there’s a good possibility that more money will be put into the program at the next Water Commission meeting on June 8th,” explains Huibregtse.

The program has a six-month deadline, however, producers can re-apply for another six months, so they have a year to complete their projects. If the situation is out of control because of contractor unavailability, the Water Commission will be flexible with producers.

Follow this link to apply online for the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program.

Follow this link more information and updates from The ND State Water Commission including their June 8th virtual State Water Commission committee meeting.

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