FARGO - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has set aside $20 million of its budget this year for work on the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion, North Dakota's congressional delegation announced Thursday, May 25.
The agency is building an inlet structure south of Horace that would be part of a dam controlling flow into the diversion channel. The project broke ground earlier this spring.
The delegation took a somber tone, however, recognizing that there is still a lawsuit against the project by local governments upstream of the dam and by Minnesota regulators.
"We continue working to secure additional funding and remain committed to building consensus and addressing the concerns of groups across the region," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement that he's "hopeful" everyone can iron out their differences.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement that she has been pushing the corps and the Office of Management and Budget to provide adequate funding for the project. She said the $20 million in the corps' work plan shows "momentum is on our side," though she criticized President Donald Trump's administration for not funding the project in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018.
The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority said the diversion's $20 million wasn't specified in the 2017 fiscal year budget either, but it had the support of Congress and the corps. Diversion officials are optimistic the corps will also set aside funds for the project in the agency's 2018 budget.
Federal fiscal years run from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Fiscal year 2017, for instance, ends Sept. 30, 2017.
Randy Richardson, a senior program manager with CH2M Hill, which manages the project for the authority, told authority officials Thursday that while the $20 million is more than four times the funding set aside for in 2016, it's still short of what he'd hoped for.
Rocky Schneider, a consultant for the authority, clarified that the maximum amount of work that could be done in in fiscal year 2017 is $70 million.
The federal share of the $2.2 billion diversion is $450 million with the rest coming from state and local taxes.