BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Thursday, April 8, declared a statewide drought disaster. More than 70% of the state is now considered to be in extreme drought, with the entire state in some level of drought designation on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In conjunction with the declaration, Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring announced the State Water Commission has reactivated the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program.

Burgum's declaration said the period from September 2020 to February 2021 exceeded the driest six-month period on record since 1895 in the state.

“For the second time in five years, North Dakota ranchers are facing widespread, extreme drought conditions that threaten their herds and livelihoods,” Burgum said in a statement. “As part of our whole-of-government approach to drought response, today’s action by the State Water Commission provides relief to help livestock producers manage these hardships and invests in infrastructure that allows them to remain resilient against future droughts.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released April 8 and reflecting conditions on April 6, extreme drought now covers 70.3% of North Dakota, compared to 23.98% a week earlier. Severe drought is at 23.98%. Another 5.72% is in moderate drought.

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Created in 1991 and last reactivated in 2017, the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program provides eligible livestock producers with 50% cost-share assistance of up to $4,500 per project, with a limit of three projects per applicant. Eligible projects include new water wells, rural water system connections, pipeline extensions, pasture taps and associated works, labor, materials, and equipment rentals to develop new water supply projects.

The 2017 program supported more than 500 projects with total cost-share of approximately $1.5 million. The State Water Commission's unanimous April 8 vote will utilize the remaining balance of $557,277 from the 2017 program to support this year’s program reactivation. Burgum chairs the commission and Goehring serves as a standing member.

“The Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program has been invaluable in the past for livestock producers facing water shortages,” Goehring said in a statement. “Reopening the program will again help producers as we navigate this season of drought.”

Livestock producers in counties impacted by extreme drought (D3) intensity levels, and adjacent counties, will be eligible for the program. Details are available on the Water Commission’s website at www.swc.nd.gov. Eligible livestock producers also can contact the State Water Commission at 701-328-4989 or swclivestock@nd.gov.

To view maps showing current burn ban restrictions and fire danger levels, and for information on how to prevent wildfires, visit www.ndresponse.gov.