The Missouri River Recharge and Expansion Project is Still Not Complete

New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California, while leaving Colorado River and other states with much smaller water supplies

By Rachel La Corte

December 15, 2015 — 12.15pm

A big water deal is coming together.

In the state of South Dakota, a company is poised to win the right to discharge roughly 5.9 million acre-feet of water each year through a long-awaited pipeline from the Missouri River to the southern reaches of the Dakotas, where it could support agriculture.

Just two years ago, the federal government stopped making water available to the company. But the project still isn’t finished – a major step towards finishing it is likely to be a major water battle.

The project has become a national water fight, the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades. As such, the stakes are incredibly high for states like North Dakota. These states are running out of water and the project may be their ticket to get it.

A company backed by the fracking lobby has won the right to discharge up to 5.9 million acre-feet of water per year from the Missouri River through a long-awaited $1bn (£610m) underground water project.

The project is designed to boost agricultural production and water supply in South Dakota, to the point where farmers and ranchers can grow as much of their food as they need. While the project was originally designed to supply South Dakota with water, it could easily be expanded or shifted to other states, such as Nebraska, which also need water.

After winning the water rights bid, the Missouri River Recharge and Expansion Project (MRREP) needs to be completed and operational before it can be officially offered water to the public. If it can be done safely, the project is expected to reduce the flow of water downstream and boost agricultural production.

The project is still not complete. The first phase of the project, which is designed to provide water to farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, is now complete, and is expected to be able to provide water for farmers and ranchers for at least another two years.

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, the Nebraska-Nebraska Water Initiative is trying to sell the state some of this water, as Nebraska prepares to sell billions of

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