US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



Civil Action No. 02-cv-02057 (RMC), GOVERNMENT OF THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA, Plaintiff, v. GALE A. NORTON, Secretary, United Stated Department of the Interior, et al., Defendants.


U.S. government work


The United States Government and the State of North Dakota have begun construction on a project that is designed to transfer water through a mountain range from the Missouri River Basin into the Hudson Bay Basin for purposes of providing water to numerous small communities in North Dakota. This “NorthWest Area Water Supply Project” (“NAWS”) would be the first federally-sponsored interbasin transfer of water. The Province of Manitoba, Canada (“Manitoba”) has filed suit against Gail A. Norton, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, John W. Keys, III, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Maryanne C. Bach, Great Plains Regional Director of the Bureau of Reclamation, and Dennis E. Breitzman, Dakotas Area Manager of the Bureau of Reclamation (collectively, “Federal Defendants”). Manitoba challenges the Federal Defendants’ compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq. (“NEPA”), in connection with their consideration and approval of the water transfer project. More particularly, Plaintiff contends that the April 30, 2001 Environmental Assessment (“EA”) for the project is inadequate and that the 1 Within the Hudson Bay Basin are the watersheds of Lake of the Woods, the Red and Souris Rivers, Lake Manitoba, and Lake Winnipeg. AR at 864. The basin’s principal watercourses are the Saskatchewan and Winnipeg rivers. AR at 862. -2- Finding of No Significant Impact (“FONSI”), dated May 18, 2001, as revised September 10, 2001, together with the actions based thereon, are therefore arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law within the meaning of Section 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). The point of contention is the degree to which NAWS threatens to bring non-native biota from the Missouri River Basin into the Hudson Bay Basin. Pending before the Court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Manitoba, Federal Defendants, and Intervenor-Defendant, the State of North Dakota (“North Dakota”). Manitoba’s motion is supported by amici curiae the Government of Canada and the State of Missouri. Upon consideration of the arguments presented in the parties’ memoranda and at oral argument, the Court will grant in part, and deny in part, Manitoba’s motion for summary judgment and will deny the motions of Federal Defendants and North Dakota.