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Corps ends plan to charge for water

Corps ends plan to charge for water

Just like free-flowing rivers, reservoirs belong to states, says North Dakota AG

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers reversed course on an Obama-era proposal to charge for water drawn from reservoirs the corps manages, North Dakota's attorney general said Friday.

Last year, attorneys general from a dozen Western and Plains states sent a letter to the Trump administration asking that the proposal be withdrawn.

Republican North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem headed the effort, which was backed by his counterparts in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Stenehjem said the plan would usurp states' authority over their own water.

The corps did not immediately respond Friday to calls seeking comment.

"The use and management of water that flows through states always has belonged to states," Stenehjem said. "This is a very good thing that the corps recognized what we've said all along: that the fact that a river is dammed does not diminish that the water belongs to us and always has."

President Donald Trump's administration withdrew the water supply rule in January, and the Corps withdrew its policy Thursday, he said.

Stenehjem has said the proposal would be especially harmful to the six reservoirs on the upper Missouri River, including Nebraska and South Dakota's Lewis and Clark Lake and North Dakota's Lake Sakakawea, the biggest along the 2,341mile river. The corps' proposal could have required municipal, industrial and domestic users to sign a supply contract and pay the corps, Stenehjem said.

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