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Dalrymple says Oxbow needs ring dike even without diversion

FARGO - Gov. Jack Dalrymple has weighed in on the lawsuit over the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project, saying the state doesn't consider the ring dike around the Oxbow area to be part of the project.

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FARGO – Gov. Jack Dalrymple has weighed in on the lawsuit over the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project, saying the state doesn't consider the ring dike around the Oxbow area to be part of the project.

That's the position of the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Board of Authority, but diversion opponents and a federal judge disagreed. In May, the judge ordered work on the dike to stop until the entire project has been reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The governor, explicitly referencing the order, said he requested funding for the dike and intended that it be built even if the diversion was not.

"The bottom line is that the state of North Dakota wishes to protect the cities of Oxbow and Hickson from Red River flooding in the same way that Minnesota has protected its own communities," Dalrymple wrote in a letter dated Wednesday to Diversion Authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo. "We want to provide that protection regardless of whether a diversion project ever takes place."

The authority is a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, representing two counties upstream of a proposed dam that will slow the flow of flood water through the diversion channel.

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Dalrymple explained that the city of Oxbow had requested state funding for a ring dike in 2010 after fighting the floods of 2009 and 1997. High waters in 2011 and 2013 strengthened the city's case. As governor and as chairman of the State Water Commission, he said he asked the Legislature in 2012 to fund the dike along with other flood control projects in Fargo.

Normally, a city receiving state funds for a project would need to pay a local share, Dalrymple said. The city of Fargo offered to pay Oxbow's share, he said, because Oxbow would be on the wet side of the diversion dam.

Dalrymple said there is probably a lot of confusion because the Legislature labeled the $100 million fund as "Fargo flood protection" when it probably should have been labeled "Cass County flood protection." House Bill 1020 allows the $100 million to be spent on ring dikes outside of Fargo.

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