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Diversion cost to be a big topic in the 2019 Legislature

Delays in the start of construction of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project have caused the project’s price to go up.

The cost is now estimated to be $2.7 billion. That's up $585 million from earlier estimates. Of that, $300 million will be added to the state’s share.

"Gov. Burgum has committed in his budget an additional $100 million to the diversion project over each of the next three bienniums," said State Water Commission engineer Garland Erbele. "Right now, the diversion receives $66.5 million every two years, meaning it would be upped to $166 million."

That money will come out of the resources trust fund.

Erbele said the Diversion Authority is hoping to get the remaining balance from the federal government.

"That's the plan," Erbele said.

Erbele said he understands the F-M Diversion Authority will also be looking for loans as a “stopgap” for project funding.  Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney had floated the idea of borrowing some money from North Dakota’s Legacy Fund. And Erbele said during the Legislative session, all options will be on the table.

"This is a large project," Erbele said. "Perhaps the largest infrastructure project the state has ever done."

And Erbele said funding it is a challenge.

"Every opinion is being talked about," Erbele said.

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