The first meeting of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Flood Diversion Task Force took place in Fargo today.
The task force consists of 16 people, 8 from Minnesota and 8 from North Dakota, plus each state's governor. The Diversion was halted in September when Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources refused to issue needed permits. Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney says collaboration on this level has always been needed. He says he's optimistic going forward.
"I think both governors have taken some time to pick the people on the significant 16, and basically have very optimistic in a way of trying to get a solution by December 15. I think that gives us some closure; so all the times we've been in litigation, you never know when it's going to end, or what's going to happen, or get a final decision. The idea of getting everybody in a room, sit down and talk - that's what we've always wanted. And then to have the people able to raise their objections and do those kinds of things - hopefully we'll find a solution."
Tim Fox is one of the task force members. He was appointed by Governor Dayton, and is a former attorney for Wilkin County. He says he's not a stranger to water issues; Wilkin County is part of a large watershed and he's had to work on flood mitigation projects in the past. He says he's glad so many different voices will be heard during this process.
"When it came to light that this project was going to involve a dam, and there were going to be people impacted south of the dam, I became concerned about, first about how the process worked - that the people who were being impacted learned about it more or less second hand, and were told, 'this is it, there's no changes, there's no way this project is going to be changed,' there's something that came to me that felt overwhelmingly wrong about how the process worked. I'm very pleased that the governors have gotten this task force together so that the people who are impacted have the ability to say something about this project."
The task force has until December 15th to submit a proposal for progress on the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project.