North Dakota Water History Book

The North Dakota Water Education Foundation is writing and publishing a comprehensive history of water development and water management in North Dakota in the 20th Century. The details, chronologies and factual information needed to tell this story will be complied through research, interviews, and utilization of existing materials.


The 14-chapter water history book will include the following components of North Dakota’s water history:

  • Missouri River/Pick Sloan
  • Garrison Diversion
  • Water Supply/Eastern North Dakota
  • Rural Water Systems
  • West River Diversion/Southwest Pipeline Project/Southwest Water Authority
  • Devils Lake
  • Red River of the North: Flooding/Protection
  • Souris River Flooding/Protection
  • Irrigation
  • Weather Modification
  • Water Management Projects/Water Resource Districts/Drain Boards/Water managers and Dam
  • Wetlands Issues and Conflicts Appendices, including a history timeline
  • State Engineers
  • Water Organizations: Water Resource Districts/Water Users Groups, State Water Commission

Personal Reflections

This is a story that will be told partly through the personal recollections of those who have been involved in state water issues during this century. The North Dakota Water Education Foundation was a sponsor of Prairie Public Radio’s “More Precious Than Gold” which involved interviews with over 90 people connected with water in North Dakota. Prairie Public TV has provided the complete transcripts of those interviews. They will provide helpful information to tell North Dakota’s water history. We will also interview present and former state engineers and staff at the North Dakota State Water Commission for the State Engineer history portion of this water history book.


Supplementing interviews, we will research the papers and records of individuals, organizations and agencies, and other historical accounts of North Dakota’s water issues. We will also research photo archives from state and federal agencies, newspapers and magazines, and private collections to include in the book.


Once compiled and written, the history will be published as a 260-page book.  Any materials developed for this project will be donated to the State Archives at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

A critical component of this project will be to develop an Educator's Guide to accompany the book.  This guide will include between two and three lessons per chapter and will directly relate to the subject matter in the book. The lesson materials will be modeled after the national Project Water Education for Teachers (WET) program, which is recognized around the world for its excellence and effectiveness in water education in the classroom will then become part of the North Dakota WET Program.  They will be written for middle school and high school students in grades 6-12, and will include suggestions for adapting the lessons to the elementary level. Activities in the Educator's Guide will be developed to correspond with North Dakota's education standards for the various subject areas covered.  While the Educator's Guide will be developed primarily for use in the classroom, it will be designed for use by others, such as leaders of youth groups and resource specialists at state and federal agencies.

Once completed, it is our vision to develop an interactive CD for water development and water management by applying for grant funds that may be available for water education programs.