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Senate Passes Bill with F-M Permanent Flood Protection - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Senate Passes Bill with F-M Permanent Flood Protection

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A measure that would authorize a Red River flood diversion project has passed the US Senate.

The nearly $2 billion proposal to move water around Fargo is part of the 2013 Water Resources Development Act, which was approved Wednesday morning.

Authorization would allow construction to begin, but the federal funding would need to be appropriated each year to cover the construction costs, which would be shared by local, state and federal governments.

The water projects bill now goes to the House.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven calls authorization of the diversion "a big step toward the construction phase of the project."

RELEASE FROM SEN. JOHN HOEVEN

Senator John Hoeven announced Wednesday the U.S. Senate has passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which includes authorization for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley and legislation barring the Army Corps of Engineers from charging residents and businesses for Missouri River reservoir water.

"The WRDA bill successfully addresses two important priorities for North Dakota, one in the east and one in the west," Hoeven said. "With authorization for permanent flood control in the Red River Valley we take a big step toward the construction phase of the project, and with inclusion of our States' Water Rights Act, we block a misguided and unfair proposal by the Corps to charge a fee for access to Missouri River reservoirs."

Authorization obligates funding for construction of the project, which represents a large step[. Hoeven said. Because of the scale and expense of the project, federal funding will need to be appropriated each year on an ongoing basis to cover the cost, which will be shared by the local, state and federal government.

The total cost of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project is roughly $1.8 billion, with 45 percent, or $800 million, assumed by the federal government. The nonfederal share will be split three ways: the state of Minnesota will assume $100 million, and the state of North Dakota and local government will assume the balance, $450 million each.

"Permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead will be one of the largest and most important projects our state has ever undertaken," Hoeven said. "This is a project that will protect a quarter of a million people in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We need to maintain our momentum and move it ahead. We need to put the cost and hardship of annual flood fights behind us."

RELEASE FROM SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP

Today, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp commended Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act. The Act authorizes projects through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood risk reduction, navigation and ecosystem restoration.  It has been more than six years since Congress last enacted a WRDA bill.  

"I was pleased to vote in favor to passage of the WRDA bill and to see it pass the Senate today on a strong bipartisan vote. This legislation is so important for communities throughout North Dakota and across the country. In a state like ours, where we are constantly dealing with water issues, whether it be too much or too little, this legislation allows critical projects to advance to address our water resource needs," said Heitkamp.

Specific provisions affecting North Dakota include:

  • The authorization for the construction of the Fargo-Moorhead flood risk reduction project.  This authorization is the next step in the process in advancing permanent flood protection for the basin.  
  •  It also authorizes the establishment of a program for soil moisture and snow pack monitoring in the Upper Missouri River Basin to reduce flood risk and improve river and water resource management. 
  • An amendment offered by Senators Heitkamp and Hoeven prohibiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from charging users in North Dakota for accessing surplus water from the reservoirs along the Missouri River. 

RELEASE FROM SEN. AL FRANKEN

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Minnesota waterways and shipping infrastructure will get much-needed upgrades under the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which passed the Senate today. Passage of the bill is a key step forward in efforts to protect Fargo-Moorhead from devastating flooding and allows for the completion of the Roseau flood-protection project.

"I was in Fargo-Moorhead this year and, luckily, we dodged a bullet," said Sen. Franken. "But there's no substitute for a permanent fix. I pushed hard in the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act for authorization of the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion and for the completion of the Roseau flood-protection project because these communities need relief."

While the passage of WRDA is a step in the right direction for the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion, there's still debate over the proper design. Sen. Franken hopes all voices will be heard throughout the process—with the final design taking into account all concerns—and that the U.S. House of Representatives will take up and pass the bill in a timely fashion.

The Senate passed the bipartisan measure 83-to-14.

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