Rep. Marquart Criticizes the Diversion Authority over Oxbow Ring - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Rep. Marquart Criticizes the Diversion Authority over Oxbow Ring Dike Project

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FARGO, N.D. -- A potentially major blow for the Red River Diversion project Wednesday after Minnesota State Representative Paul Marquart said the Diversion Authority should not have moved ahead with the Oxbow Diking Project, until the environmental impact statement was completed. So, he said he cannot support state funding for the project until this issue is resolved.

A skyline of bulldozers and mounds of dirt sit behind homes along Riverbend Road in Oxbow...all part of the Oxbow Diking Project. Homeowner John Rustvang said he's looking to downsize but, it's hard to even get a home appraisal, because of the flooding issues. 

"People have wanted to sell their homes out here, because of job transfers and moving onto different phase of their life and they haven't been able to do that," said Rustvang.

And now, plans may be delayed. State Representative Paul Marquart said the Diversion Authority should have waited until next spring to start this construction, after the environmental impact study is complete. He said they may find Minnesota communities up-stream will be affected by the diversion and he called the authority's decision not to wait "heavy handed."

"I'm very concerned that moving ahead now with the construction of the levies at Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke is putting the cart before the horse and I think seriously threatens future Minnesota funding for this project," said State Rep. Marquart.

Diversion Authority Chairman Daryl Vanyo takes issue with Marquart's comments. Vanyo told Valley News Live the authority is working for immediate flood protection for Oxbow and to protect the land values in the Kindred School District.

"I appreciates his comments, because he's sincere about those," said Vanyo. "But I think if you look at the reasons why we're doing it, I don't think we are this big bully that's just doing anything that we want to do. I think we are doing it for the right reasons."

"Marquart's comments are kind of off-the-wall kind of thing, like where did this come from," said Oxbow's Mayor Jim Nyhof.

The Mayor and other residents agree, saying the Diversion Authority has the best interest of the community in mind. 

"Seeing any project delayed further, I think will be a real set-back," said Rustvang.

For now, construction will continue, but Minnesota sits on the fence. And, Fargo can possibly lose 10 percent of diversion project funding if our neighboring state is not on board. 

What's more, he said no bonding measure has ever been approved in a legislator's district over that legislator's opposition. Marquart said he still supports the diversion, but the environmental impact statement is crucial. As for Vanyo, he told us building the diversion without Minnesota's support would be very difficult.

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