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.