KX Conversation: Andrea Travnicek discusses her new appointment as director of Dept. of Water Resources

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In May of 2020, Gov. Doug Burgum appointed Andrea Travnicek to lead the North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation.

At that time, Travnicek returned to North Dakota after nearly three years of service in top leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Interior, where she served as deputy secretary for land and minerals management.

Now, Burgum has appointed Travnicek to direct the Department of Water Resources.

Travnicek, who spent the majority of her youth in Minot, discussed some of the leadership roles she had leading up to the new appointment.

“For the last year, I have been serving as the Director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department. And, prior to that, as you kinda discussed, I was working at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. with various different leadership positions including overseeing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. I have also worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and then working for Governor Hoeven and Dalrymple. I spend a lot of time as the Senior Policy Advisor. Working on Water Issues across the state. So, I think with that broad background of water issues looking at anything from water supply issues to protection. Devil’s Lake. So, I think that’s where the governor appointed me to take over this new important role,” explained Travnicek.

As a result of House Bill 1353 passing during the 2021 legislative session, the Department of Water Resources replaces the State Water Commission as the primary state agency. Travnicek explained how the new department combines agencies for a more efficient overarching umbrella organization to oversee the state’s water resources.

“You’ve got a director as well as a state engineer still working with the commissioners, but it’s all under that Department of Water Resources. So, as we’re looking at priorities in the upcoming year. Still really focusing on, how do we make sure people still have access to water? What are those opportunities for that cost-effectiveness, efficiency, also still working with those flood protection projects? We still have the same programs that we’ve had with the State Water Commission. Department of Water Resources will continue to do that, from water appropriations, education outreach programs, atmospheric resources, permitting capabilities. We still have all those programs in place,” explained Travnicek.

The State Water Commission consists of Burgum as chairman, Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring and eight members appointed by the governor to six-year terms. Each member represents drainage basins in North Dakota.

Travnicek explained how the members, from diverse backgrounds, are stakeholders for their respective drainage basins.

“I think this actually makes things a little more efficient. So, you’ve got a point person who is going to continue to interact with all of those commissioners. Water as we discussed touches everything. So, from your landowners to your agricultural producers to your business entities. All, these different water resource districts are trying to figure out the best way to manage these resources, and we really want to be working with all those different entities to help them do that in a long sustainable manner. We really want to be looking at resiliency into the future, and taking advantage of those resource dollars, helping communities build the best infrastructure they can to help the citizens of North Dakota. Then really looking at that economic development standpoint recruiting industries and businesses that want to be here in North Dakota as well,” explained Travnicek.

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