North Dakota State Water Commission

The State Water Commission consists of the Governor as chairman, the Commissioner of Agriculture as an ex-officio member, and seven members appointed by the Governor who provide regional representation.

The State Water Commission has the authority to investigate, plan, construct, and develop water-related projects, and serves as a mechanism to financially support those efforts throughout North Dakota.

Office of the State Engineer

North Dakota’s State Engineer serves as Chief Engineer and Secretary to the State Water Commission. In a separate role, North Dakota’s State Engineer is responsible for several regulatory functions and responsibilities, including allocation of the state’s waters, dam safety, sovereign land management, and drainage.


Present and future generations of North Dakotans will enjoy an adequate supply of good quality water for people, agriculture, industry, and fish and wildlife; Missouri River water will be put to beneficial use through its distribution across the state to meet ever increasing water supply and quality needs; and successful management and development of North Dakota's water resources will ensure health, safety, and prosperity, and balance the needs of generations to come.


To improve the quality of life and strengthen the economy of North Dakota by managing the water resources of the state for the benefit of its people.

Philosophy and Values

In the delivery of services to the citizens of North Dakota, we the employees of the State Water Commission and the Office of the State Engineer value fairness, objectivity, accountability, responsiveness, and credibility. We pledge to use professional and scientific methods to maintain only the highest of standards in our delivery of services to our constituents.

Goals & Strategic Initiatives

Goal 1

Promote development and investment in water resource projects.

  • Biennially develop a comprehensive Water Development Plan which includes an inventory of prioritized water projects to facilitate investment in the state’s highest water development priorities.
  • Implement the Economic Analysis and Life Cycle Cost Analysis processes to support the efficient allocation of state funds.
  • Administer the cost-share program to provide financial support to political subdivisions for locally led projects that protect public safety, enhance quality of life, and promote economic development.
  • Continue design, construction, and operation of the Southwest Pipeline and Northwest Area Water Supply projects.
  • Implement and manage the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Assistance Program to mitigate drought-related impacts to the state’s livestock industry.

Goal 2

Utilize technology and education to increase our understanding for the improved management of the state’s water resources.

  • Continue research and deployment of advanced technologies such as Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveys, Pushing REmote SENSors (PRESENS), and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for data collection efforts.
  • Utilize agency-hosted Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), aerial imagery, flood control structure database information, and the new approximate flood risk map to promote National Flood Insurance Program participation and best floodplain management practices, and develop a publically accessible web-based platform.
  • Use internet-based platforms to implement, grow, and improve the water education program through cooperative efforts with other agencies, universities, and the educational community.
  • Continue development and deployment of innovative IT infrastructure to address complex water resource management initiatives - while continuing support of existing IT development platforms.

Goal 3

Continue our strong commitment to sustainable water management.

  • Provide regulatory and permitting oversight to water construction features, i.e. flood control facilities, water retention structures, and assessed drains.
  • Maintain a strong water right permitting process that provides for the orderly development of water resources in the state.
  • Provide hydrologic and hydraulic technical support to agency functions and the public to enhance public safety, quality of life, and economic development.
  • Utilize state-of-the-art technologies to provide hail suppression and rainfall enhancement cloud seeding services to participating counties.
  • Increase the public’s understanding and awareness of state sovereign lands and the management of regulated activities.