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Letter to President Obama

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Congressional leaders from North Dakota and Minnesota today urged President Obama to support the Fargo--Moorhead region's effort to secure permanent flood protection and include funding to advance the project in his budget for the next fiscal year.

"We recognize that this is a challenging time for the United States as we identify ways to prioritize spending in order to put the nation's finances back on a sustainable path. However, we believe this project merits inclusion in your budget as a cost-effective way to permanently protect lives, property, and the economic viability of this region," the delegation writes in their letter to the President. "Until permanent protection is in place, these cities will continue to battle floods with temporary measures, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars annually."

North Dakota's Senator Kent Conrad, Senator John Hoeven and Congressman Rick Berg teamed up with Minnesota's Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken and Congressman Collin Peterson to draft the letter to President Obama. The delegation warns that -- according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- a 100-year flood event would cause nearly $6 billion in damages. A 500-year event would flood nearly the entire city of Fargo and a large portion of Moorhead, threatening thousands of lives and devastating the area economically.

In 2008, the cities of Fargo and Moorhead requested assistance from the Corps to evaluate options for permanent flood protection. After a lengthy study that analyzed a variety of flood protection measures, the local communities selected a diversion channel on the North Dakota side as the locally preferred plan (LPP).

When compared to the National Economic Development plan, the LPP would protect more people and structures and provide a greater reduction in the average annual cost to the region from flood damage, with no increase in federal expenditures. In addition, cost share to be contributed by the states and local governments will cover more than half the total cost of project.

"We urge you to include $30 million in the FY13 budget to allow the Corps to continue the planning, engineering, and design of this vital project," the delegation writes.

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We request that you include $30 million for the Fargo-Moorhead Metro flood protection project in your fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget.

The Red River of the North, which flows through the cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, has exceeded flood stage every year since 1993. The floods of 2009, 2010, and 2011 have represented the first, seventh, and fourth highest floods on record for the region. Every year, the region must erect miles and miles of temporary protective measures, which are costly and often have to be erected quickly under adverse conditions. Although the region has suffered some of its worst flooding in recent years, experts warn that it is only a matter of time until the area is hit with even more catastrophic flooding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) indicates that a 100-year event would cause $6 billion in damages. A 500-year event would flood nearly the entire city of Fargo and a large portion of Moorhead. A catastrophic breach in temporary protection under these circumstances would likely result in hundreds of fatalities and would devastate the area economically. Based on the experiences of other communities that have experienced severe flooding, it could take years to recover from a catastrophic event.

The region has been very proactive in removing flood-threatened structures and making other infrastructure improvements to strengthen the ability to wage a flood fight, but one vital piece is still missing. This region needs a comprehensive, permanent flood protection project.

In 2008, the cities of Fargo and Moorhead requested assistance from the USACE to evaluate options for permanent flood protection. After a lengthy study that analyzed a variety of flood protection measures, the local communities selected a diversion channel on the North Dakota side as the locally preferred plan (LPP). The Assistant Secretary of the Army-Civil Works granted an exception to allow USACE to recommend the LPP in lieu of the National Economic Development (NED) plan. In granting the exception, the Assistant Secretary noted that "the locally preferred plan would significantly reduce flood damage, the risk of loss of life and the need for emergency flood fighting measures."

When compared to the NED plan, the LPP would protect more people and structures and provide a greater reduction in the average annual cost to the region from flood damage, with no increase in federal expenditures. In addition, the non-federal share to be contributed by the state and local governments will cover more than half the total cost of project. This includes revenues raised through local sales taxes already approved by voters for the dedicated purposes of flood mitigation and infrastructure improvement.

We recognize that this is a challenging time for the United States as we identify ways to prioritize spending in order to put the nation's finances back on a sustainable path. However, we believe this project merits inclusion in your budget as a cost-effective way to permanently protect lives, property, and the economic viability of this region. Until permanent protection is in place, these cities will continue to battle floods with temporary measures, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars annually. We appreciate your past support of this project, and urge you to include $30 million in the FY13 budget to allow the USACE to continue the planning, engineering, and design of this vital project.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request for our states.


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