BISMARCK — A new agency will soon take control of North Dakota's water resources and flood prevention efforts, and Gov. Doug Burgum has selected a familiar face to lead it.
Burgum announced Monday, July 26, he has appointed North Dakota Parks and Recreation Director Andrea Travnicek as the director of the state Department of Water Resources. If the State Water Commission approves the appointment later this week, Travnicek will be the first to helm the new department, which lawmakers voted earlier this year to establish as the "primary state water agency."
Starting Aug. 1, the new department will take over some duties from the commission, which is currently responsible for planning, investigating and developing water infrastructure projects. If Travnicek is approved, she will get to hire a state engineer and department staff.
Travnicek, a North Dakota native, returned to the state last year to join the Parks and Recreation Department after three years working in leadership positions with the U.S. Department of the Interior. Previously, she served as a natural resources policy advisor to then-Govs. John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple. The North Dakota State University graduate said she's excited to help "improve our state’s quality of life and strengthen the economy" in her new role.
"Andrea’s deep background in natural resources and broad experience as an agency leader at the state, federal and international levels will serve the water stakeholders and citizens of North Dakota well,” Burgum said in a news release.
Burgum also announced a reshuffling of half of the appointed members on the State Water Commission, with Belfield rancher James Odermann, Jamestown commerce promoter Connie Ova, consultant and former Fargo city engineer April Walker and McKenzie County rancher Gene Veeder joining the panel. They will replace Katie Hemmer, of Jamestown; Mark Owan, of Williston; Matthew Pedersen, of Valley City; and Steven Schneider, of Dickinson. Burgum reappointed Michael Anderson, of Hillsboro; Dick Johnson, of Devils Lake; Jay Volk, of Bismarck; and Jason Zimmerman, of Minot.
Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Paul Taylor will be taking over for Travnicek on an interim basis to lead the agency that manages more than a dozen parks and recreation areas throughout the state.