Fargo legislators want to change intent language on FM Diversion | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Fargo legislators want to change intent language on FM Diversion

Apr 12, 2019

The House has passed the budget for the state Water Commission.

But supporters of the F-M Diversion Project are hoping to change some Legislative intent language in the bill.

The intent section says state spending on the diversion cannot exceed $703 million. But Fargo lawmakers say that number needs to be $870 million.

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) voted for the spending bill – but he hopes the intent language can be changed in a House-Senate conference committee. Kasper told the House to get the project going this year, there needs to be a “P-3” agreement – a Public-Private Partnership.

"That P-3 entity is looking for assurance from the state of North Dakota, so they can sign a contract," Kasper said. "If they sign a contract, they guarantee their costs throughout the whole project. There won't be any add-ons."

Kasper said the F-M Diversion authority and legislators have been told the entity needs that intent language set at $870 million.

Rep. Bill Tveit (R-Hazen) questioned the project.

"I'm not an engineer or a hydrologist," Tveit said. "But I do know that if you put an obstacle on a piece of flat surface, you're going to change the flood plain."

"I really think until Fargo puts a stake in the ground, and say 'We're not going to build any further,' we're never going to solve a flood problem there," Tveit said. "You'll always have to divert water to somewhere else."

The bill passed 84 to 8. It goes back to the Senate for further consideration.