Water Resources Compromise Bill Authorizes Fargo Flood Protectio - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Water Resources Compromise Bill Authorizes Fargo Flood Protection

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate-House joint conference committee has come to an agreement on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and the measure includes authorization for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley. North Dakota Senators in Washington say the final version of the bill is currently being circulated for committee members’ signatures, and the process should be completed next week.

“We worked very hard to include these two important priorities for North Dakota in the new water resources development bill, and now the conferees appear to have reached an agreement,” Senator John 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 an unfair proposal by the Corps to charge a fee for access to water from Missouri River reservoirs.”

The compromise WRDA bill includes authorization for the construction of the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection project, which authorizes funding for it, Hoeven said. Because of the scale and expense of the plan, 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 non-federal share will be split three ways: 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 protect a quarter of a million people in both North Dakota and Minnesota and be one of the largest and most important projects our state has ever undertaken,” Hoeven said. “We need to maintain our momentum and put the cost and hardship of annual flood fights behind us.”

Senator Heidi Heitkamp also commented on Tuesday's agreement between the Senate and House Conference Committee.

“Today’s agreement is a continuation of the bipartisan work we have put in to get this incredibly important water bill done for North Dakota and the nation,” said Heitkamp. “Because of our efforts, the final legislation will authorize permanent flood protection for Fargo, and block the Federal government from charging us a fee to use Lake Sakakawea water.  I look forward to voting for final passage, and seeing this bill signed into law.”

Heitkamp said because the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project is now included in the final bill, authorization will allow federal funding to be provided for construction of the project, which is an important step forward in protecting people and property in the region.

Heitkamp joined Senator John Hoeven in securing a provision in WRDA when it was considered in the Senate to prevent the Corps from charging a fee for water from the reservoirs. 
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