Senators John Hoeven, Heidi Heitkamp and Amy Klobuchar and Congressmen Kevin Cramer, Collin Peterson and Governor Jack Dalrymple met with Fargo and Cass County leaders to strategize efforts to secure permanent flood control in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Also, attending the meeting were Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, chairman of the Flood Diversion Authority Board Darrel Vanyo, Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral, Cass County Commissioner Grant Weyland, Cass County Administrator Keith Berndt and Clay County Commissioner Grant Weyland.
The bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers and local officials say key to the project's successful completion is House passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The U.S. Senate last week passed the measure, which includes authorization for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley. Authorization allows funding to be provided for construction of the project, which represents a large step toward protecting people and property in the Red River Valley.
"Permanent flood control in the valley is going to require a united effort to win passage of the WRDA bill in the U.S. House," the senators and representatives said. "That means each of us using whatever tools and leverage we have in our respective roles to gain support."
Because of the scale and expense of the project, the congressional leaders said 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. In all, the state of North Dakota has committed to providing as much as $450 million in state cost-share funding contingent on both federal authorization and funding for a permanent flood protection project along the Red River.