North Dakota and Minnesota's respective governors have decided to convene a joint task force charged with finding a path forward on the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project.
Construction of the diversion began last spring, but was halted last month when the state of Minnesota's DNR refused to issue permits required for construction. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton met over a few hours today (Wednesday) and decided to convene a 16 member task force to get some fresh eyes on the project.
"Governor Dayton and myself will co-lead that group. There will be 8 members each from North Dakota and Minnesota. In the next few days our staffs will work out the specific charter and the timeline - a compressed timeline - over which this working group will work to try to come up with a solution that accomplishes something that works for everybody. And that includes, how do we get a permit from the Minnesota DNR, and how do we take care of all the concerns of all the upstream and downstream folks."
Dayton says details on who exactly will be appointed to the task force are still being worked out, but he hopes to have the group put together soon. He says he is in favor of an aggressive timeline.
"I'd say 60 days at the outside, but maybe less. Our staffs need to assess how much work we need to get done and what kind of expertise we need to bring in - and, realistically, how quickly can we accomplish that. If we could do it in 30 days, I'd be for 30 days. If we could do it in a week, I'd be for a week. I don't want to see this drag on. Failure is not an option. There's got to be flood protection for this growing area, and for the people around it."
Dayton says going forward, a collaborative approach that impacts the least amount of people will satisfy the most people.