Conflict in Water Management of James River, ND

by Craig Odenbach, North Dakota State Water Commission, Bismarck, United States,
G. Padmanabhan, North Dakota State Water Commission, Bismarck, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Urban and Regional Conflict Resolution in Water Related Issues


Delivery of water from storage in Jamestown Reservoir to 898 acres of newly developed irrigation along the lower James River by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation during the drought of 1988 created a potential for conflict with both the existing private irrigators, who have historically depended on the normal releases, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who holds a water right for a downstream channel dam behind which many of the appropriators have their pumps located. The difficulty in distinguishing between natural flow, the water released from Jamestown Reservoir, and the water stored in this channel dam, complicated decisions for surface water managers. The adverse effects of a severe drought served to further complicate these decisions. A hydrologic budget analysis was used to quantify the gains and losses during this period and to assess the effects on holders of the conflicting water rights. Data were collected from various sources to determine the inflow, outflow, precipitation, evaporation, appropriations, and storage for each of five reaches analyzed. The results of this analysis showed that the relationship between the various water right holders was mutually beneficial, because the adverse effects of the drought were shared. This analysis also showed the stream to be a gaining stream through most of the reaches and provided an understanding of this hydrologic system which will be valuable if delivery of water to the Oakes Test Area from Jamestown Reservoir is attempted again.

Subject Headings: Water shortage | Rivers and streams | Water resources | Water management | Water rights | Dispute resolution | Droughts | Hydrology | North Dakota | United States

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