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Buford -Trenton Project
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Buford -Trenton Project History (56 KB) (pdf)
General Description | Plan | Development | Benefit
General Description

The Buford-Trenton Project lands lie along the north bank of the Missouri River adjoining the towns of Buford and Trenton, North Dakota. The Great Northern Railroad parallels the project and is roughly the north boundary of the development area. Water is supplied to 10,671 acres of irrigable land by pumping directly from the Missouri River into a main canal and laterals. No storage facilities are required.

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Water for the project is pumped from the Missouri River at a point about 1.5 miles above its confluence with the Yellowstone River. The plant has three pumps, each having a capacity of 80 cubic feet per second and an average lift of 29 feet.

The pumps discharge into the main canal, which is 11.5 miles long and has an initial capacity of 250 cubic feet per second. The canal is unlined except for a 2-mile section of clay lining around Trenton Lake. The distribution and drainage systems include 34 miles of laterals and 31.6 miles of drains.

Operating Agency

Operation and maintenance of the irrigation system is by the Buford-Trenton Irrigation District. On January 28, 1955, the district assumed full management responsibilities from the Buford-Trenton Mutual Aid Corp.

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Irrigation possibilities in the project area were recognized as early as 1902. The Reclamation Service initiated a pumping project in 1907 to irrigate benchlands at a higher elevation than those in the present project. This early project, also known as the Buford-Trenton Project pumped water from the Missouri River with electrical energy obtained from the Reclamation powerplant at Williston. Poor soil qualities in the lands to be irrigated and a series of wet years caused the landowners in the area to lose interest in irrigation and the project was discontinued.


Investigations of the area were carried out in the 1930`s by several Government agencies. Based on those studies and reports, the present Buford-Trenton Project was authorized.


The initial project was found feasible and authorized on November 18, 1904, by the Secretary of the Interior. Construction of the present project was authorized under the Water Conservation and Utility Projects section of the Interior Department Appropriations Act of 1940. The finding of feasibility was transmitted to the President by the Secretary of the Interior on August 23, 1939, and the new project was approved for construction September 23, 1939. A new finding of feasibility enlarging the project area was approved by the President on August 7, 1942.


The Bureau of Reclamation constructed the irrigation and drainage system in 1940-1943. The Department of Agriculture supervised the land preparation, settlement, and agricultural planning. Labor was supplied by the Works Projects Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Civilian Public Service.

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Principal crops produced are sugar beets, alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, and pasture. The project has a stabilizing influence on the livestock industry in the area through the production of feed crops.

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Last updated: Mar 22, 2011