New story: Northern states enjoy an oil boom with free Missouri River water

Missouri River water fuels North Dakota fracking boom from KBIA FM on Vimeo.

In the summer of 2012, midwestern states like Missouri were hit hard by a regional drought. The lack of rainfall wasn’t just hurting crops, it was hurting industry. The Missouri river is a major traffic lane for barges carrying all manner of commodities up and down the region. When the river runs low, traffic stalls and eventually stops.

That’s just one reason why we found it odd that companies to the north of Missouri were drawing massive amounts of water from the Missouri River. Oil and gas companies in North Dakota need steady supplies of water for their drilling and fracking operations and the Missouri River is the most plentiful source.

In April of this year, reporter Brendan Gibbons followed the Missouri River to visit our northern neighbors. He found that not only were the oil and gas companies successfully drawing water wherever they needed it, but they were doing so for free.

A skilled drone pilot, Gibbons collected aerial photography of drilling operations along the Missouri River. View the video above and read the story on