Court Appeal Could Delay NAWS Again

Bismarck, ND - The decades-long legal battle over the Northwest Area Water Supply project is back on.
The state of Missouri, and province of Manitoba filed a notice of appeal Tuesday - just hours ahead of the deadline.

That means despite a US District Court ruling delivered in August that gave NAWS a green light, the issue is headed back to court.

The lead engineer for NAWS updated legislators today in Bismarck, saying the appeal is not unexpected, but will be expensive.

Tim Freije says an appeal is likely to take 12-to-18 months to be decided, even though the state has won previous rulings.

And he says any further delay just adds millions to the ultimate cost of NAWS, most of which is paid with federal funds.

(Tim Freije, State Water Commission) "They're digging themselves a deeper hole. And the merits of the case have already been heard."

Work on NAWS began in 2002 and already hundreds of miles of pipe and other infrastructure have been finished while waiting for final court approval.

About $150 million dollars has already been spent on the project, and Freije estimates another quarter-billion dollars of work remains to finish NAWS, which is designed to bring Missouri River water to communities across north-central North Dakota.

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