State Diversion Funding Debated at the Capitol - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

State Diversion Funding Debated at the Capitol

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Fargo-Moorhead area leaders spent Friday morning at the state capitol pleading their case for state funding for the Red River diversion project. Amendments to the state water commission budget, approved by the house last week may threaten the project, saying no state funds could be used until federal funding is assured.

Before the Senate appropriations committee at the state capitol Friday, area leaders had an hour to plead for changes.

"It's very important that you understand that the amendments as they stand right now are very problematic for us," stated Cass County Commission chairman Darrell Vanyo.

They want to change several portions of the newly amended house bill, seeking to alter sections that say public funds cannot be used for ring dikes and water retention projects... something Oxbow mayor Jim Nyhoff questions.

"10 miles south of Fargo where there's a 50-year flood, Oxbow has a 100-year flood. We need a ring levee," Nyhoff says.

Another change would delete a section that sets a cap of $325 million dollars for flood control.

"This may be questioned by congressional people reviewing our project and our readiness for financing," Vanyo explains.

City leaders also want to point out the fact that the diversion has been approved at a federal level. They simply need Congress to act and have funding administered. They want state backing heading to Washington D.C.

Supporters of the new amendments to house bill 1020 had their chance as well.

RaeAnn Kelsch with the Minn-Dak Coalition says, "This becomes a state funded project and I believe the amendments, and we do support the amendments…I believe the amendments add accountability to state tax dollars."

Several had concerns over how Fargo will continue to fund the project. Others pointed toward strong support for the amendments that block money being used for ring dikes.

From here the Senate appropriations committee will go into subcommittee after another hearing. Senator Tony Grinberg says there's a lot of work to do in coming weeks.

"This is a complex project," Grinberg says. "This is a big project. And what I'm hopeful is that we can work with both groups in the subcommittee to come up with some kind of a reasonable compromise."

That second hearing will be held in the next couple of weeks. A couple days after that is when the subcommittee discussions about both hearings will begin.


A delegation from Fargo, Cass County and the Corps of Engineers presented their case for state funding of the Red River Diversion project before the Senate Appropriations Committee Friday morning at 9:45. The group was given 40 minutes to state their case.

Diversion Authority Co-Chair Darrell Vanyo says the project's future is on the line, so he's relieved senators have given the delegation more time. Vanyo says they're asking the senate to restore state funding for the diversion.

Vanyo says amendments tied to the State Water Commission budget, approved by the house last week includes language that threatens the diversion. The last minute changes were sponsored by House Majority Leader Al Carlson.

Valley News Team's Brandon Clark is at the committee hearing in Bismarck, he says the delegation supporting the diversion money spoke for one hour Friday morning and the opposition was given one hour to state their case immediately following. Among those speaking against the state funding are the Superintendent of Kindred Schools Steve Hall and RaeAnn Kelsch, who is part of the Minn-Dak Upstream Coalition.

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