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Published June 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

Water Commission OKs $45 million for Fargo flood protection

Flood protection for south Fargo took a step forward Tuesday when the North Dakota State Water Commission followed lawmakers’ lead and allocated funding for the project.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

Flood protection for south Fargo took a step forward Tuesday when the North Dakota State Water Commission followed lawmakers’ lead and allocated funding for the project.

The seven-member commission gave its unanimous approval to contributing $45 million toward the state’s $75 million share of the $161 million project.

“Obviously we want to get that moving as fast as possible,” said Gov. John Hoeven, a member of the commission.

Federal funds will cover $11 million, with the city providing $75 million. State and local officials hope the southside flood project will count toward the state and local share of comprehensive flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead, still under study.

“It’s pretty much our top project if not our top project,” State Engineer Dale Frink said of Fargo flood protection.

Pat Zavoral, Fargo city administrator, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to identify its preferred option for local flood control by September, with an environmental impact statement expected by the end of 2010. Designs and construction bids would follow in 2011 if all goes well.

“It’s very important that we have the funds ready to go and are doing all we can as a state to move this project forward,” Hoeven said.

In other action, the commission approved allocating $500,000 to study comprehensive flood control in the Red River basin, matching $500,000 contributed by Minnesota. The study will be carried out by the Red River Basin Commission.

North Dakota will also contribute $300,000 to finish an extensive $5 million digital mapping project of the Red River basin, an effort expected to be finished by 2011.

The State Water Commission also unanimously agreed to provide $3 million in funding to the Lake Agassiz Water Authority to continue work on the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, which awaits final federal approval.

Dave Koland, manager of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, which administers the water supply project, said the North Dakota congressional delegation continues to work to obtain “record of decision” approval for the project from the U.S. Department of Interior.

“I can’t really give you an indication when it might happen,” Koland said. “The delegation is pursuing it.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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