Griggs County Preparing for Irrigation

After many years of planning and study an acceptable plan has been evolved to utilize the runoff waters of the Missouri River to bring much needed water to certain parts of North Dakota. This water is to be used for irrigation, lake improvement, stream replenishment, industry, municipalities and virtually all the other customers who have been hampered by insufficient water for many years in North Dakota.

The 1955 legislature passed the necessary legislation to create the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District which would be the administrative body charged with the job of providing a means to use the water stored by the Garrison Dam. The district was originally composed of 22 counties; at this time the district has 25 counties, three counties having petitioned to join since its inception. Griggs County was one of the original 22 counties entering in the district by action of the County Commissioners. Leon Sayer, Jr., Cooperstown, was appointed to serve as director.

Up to this time the main work of the district has been to hold meetings to acquaint the farmers with the benefits of irrigation farming. This is being done by having meetings in the county and in the townships. The most recent action taken to further development in Griggs County is the appointment of the Farm Development Committee by the County Commissioners. The committee as appointed is: Casper Aarstad, Cooperstown; Richard Bailey, Sutton; Bjorn Fuglestad, Cooperstown; Arne Goplin, Binford; Richard Qualey, Cooperstown; Reynold Retzlaff, Binford; George Samek, Wimbledon; Irvin Steffen, Cooperstown; Howard Steiner, Hannaford; Russell Wahl, Hannaford. The main job of this committee will be to bring information on irrigation to the individual land owner in their neighborhood and when the time comes to sign the 66,000 acres of irrigable land in Griggs County into districts. The Development Committee will be the directing force in getting these petitions to the land owners. It is anticipated that sign up will get under way in Griggs County about November or December of 1957.

It will be necessary for at least 80% of the land to be signed up before the Federal Government will start to spend money in the state to construct the supply works of ditches and pumping stations necessary to bring the water to the individual farms. When the entire project is completed there will be approximately one million acres under irrigation in the state making it the largest irrigation project in the world. The economic benefits that will accrue to the state from this total development are estimated to be:

Increased farm income $54,000,000

Increase in the number of farms  3,600

Increase in number of Job opportunities 25,000

Increase in wholesale sales $61,000,000

Increase in manufacturing $ 7,000,000

Increase in population 93,000

It can be seen from these figures that the development and completion of this project could be very beneficial to the state.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 49

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