Legislature still wrestling with funding for FM Diversion

Apr 9, 2019

The Legislature is still wrestling with funding for the Red River diversion project.

Diversion backers want $870 million from the state. The House has set its funding level at $703 million.

"At this point, I think the North Dakota Legislature is behind the project, when we know for sure the federal dollars are going to be there, and the state of Minnesota allows the authority to start building," Wardner said. "The last box has to be checked on any concerns Minnesota has."

Wardner said at the present time, there isn’t $870 million available. But he said going forward, the project will be taken care of. He said some of the supporters are pushing for intent language in the state Water Commission’s budget, as well as “setting aside” more money for the diversion project.

"But keep in mind that if you set it aside, you lock it up," Wardner said. "And you have other water projects that are shovel-ready."

Wardner said in the end, the Legislature is trying to be fair to all parties.

Federal Judge John Tunheim has now cleared the way for some work to resume on a massive flood control project in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Tunheim's order allows work to resume on certain non-waterway aspects of the project. He wrote the work would do no harm as the court continues to consider whether to allow the entire project to move forward.

The Water Commission budget is currently in the House.