I never really think much about economics when it comes to hunting. Never wanted to do the calculation. Perhaps I’m afraid to. About the only thing is, I know if it gets too expensive.

That’s somewhat the same situation we find in some of our water projects. We’ve not taken a hard look at economic analysis when it comes to projects that convey water, provide flood protection or water supply. We’ve believed that these projects are justifiable and, for the most part, we didn’t need to delve into the economics to ensure they are, or, at least they are for the “biggest bang for the buck,” so to speak.

With the high demand for state financial assistance to water projects and with state revenues on a decline, it’s necessary for projects to provide as many benefits possible for the least cost. Actually, it’s always necessary regardless.

In order to do that, we needed a simple process for project sponsors to analyze the economics of a water project and select a feasible alternative.

So last session, legislation was passed that instructed the state engineer to develop an “economic analysis” process for water conveyance and flood control projects expected to cost over a million dollars. Also added to the state engineer’s responsibility was the development of a “life cycle cost analysis process” for water supply projects.

I strongly support state financial assistance for water supply projects, especially rural water supply projects as I believe that without rural water, we don’t have rural North Dakota. However these projects need to be effective and efficient.

As rural community water supply systems outlive their expected life and require costly repairs or replacements, the options are few and expensive. For some, the League of Cities informed me there are 73 such communities, the option of connecting to a rural water system is an alternative to be evaluated. The “life cycle cost analysis” is being developed to assist these communities to do just that.

The state engineer will be completing both processes in the near future and will request public review.

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