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ND Senate Approves Amendment that Holds Up F-M Diversion Money - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND Senate Approves Amendment that Holds Up F-M Diversion Money

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Lawmakers at the North Dakota capitol discussed the F-M diversion project Tuesday. The Senate amended a house bill calling for $450 million dollars that can be used for levee and dike protection, but not before the federal government agrees to pay for its share of the cost.

The diversion was not included in president Obama's recently released budget proposal.

The Senate version could be reconsidered Wednesday, if not, it's likely headed to a conference committee, where differences need to be worked out.

Tuesday's vote was close, the amendment passed 24-23.

"The fight is not over. We continue to need flood protection for Fargo and Cass County," said Darrell Vanyo, Cass County Commissioner and Chair of the FM Diversion Authority. "We are disappointed that some do not understand the severity of our flood protection needs, and continue to suggest that the 4+ years of study by expert engineers is not sufficient."

"We have developed the best project to put an end to problem," Vanyo continued. "It is a complex project that will provide protection for 200,000 people. This project has some negative impacts, which we are working hard to minimize. Any remaining impacts will be mitigated. We now look forward to the conference committee and to the governor to provide funding for the project. Without state funding, the project can still move forward, but it will be at a severely delayed pace. This delay will leave 200,000 people threatened by annual flooding and will ultimately increase the cost of protection."

"We would like to thank the senators who showed their support for flood protection for Fargo and Cass County today," Vanyo concluded.

It is expected that a conference committee will be named and take up the remaining differences related to the appropriations bill, which provides funding for the FM Diversion as well as statewide water projects through the State Water Commission. 

Last month, leaders from Fargo-Moorhead and the Diversion authority appeared before the Senate appropriations committee asking for changes to amendments passed in the House to the water commission funding bill. The bill could prevent state funds from being used for the diversion until federal funding is assured.

Supporters of the new changes also had their chance to speak, representatives with the Minn-Dak Upstream Coalition said they were concerned the F-M Diversion will become primarily a state funded project.

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