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Diversion officials heading to D.C.

FARGO — Local diversion leaders are heading to Washington next week with two goals in mind: get the Red River flood control project moving for its final congressional authorization, and secure funding in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for 2015.

Diversion Authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo said he and several other local officials are making their annual trip to “keep the feet to the fire” on the authorization of the project. The legislation to OK the project has been stalled in Congress for months, as lawmakers in the House and Senate try to iron out the differences between their bills.

Vanyo said he’s disappointed the bill hasn’t moved faster. He hopes the diversion to help protect the Fargo-Moorhead area will get its final green light in March or April, at which point it can get in line to receive federal appropriations from Congress.

“It has to be addressed at some point. It’s just a matter of when,” he said. “We hope that we can do something to move that forward.”

But the lack of movement on the Water Resources Development Act may hurt the project’s chances of getting federal money in the president’s budget, which is generally released in April.

Obama did not include any funds for the proposed $1.8 billion flood channel in his 2014 budget proposal – its first snub after four years of receiving a total of about $25 million for planning and design. At the time, U.S. Sen Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., speculated the project wasn’t included because it hadn’t been fully authorized by Congress.

If the diversion doesn’t make it into the president’s budget for a second consecutive year, Vanyo said they may be able to secure some money from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s always better to have it up front,” he conceded. “We just kind of roll with the punches, I guess.”

Kyle Potter
Kyle Potter is an enterprise reporter at the Forum. He came to Fargo-Moorhead in May 2013 after stints at the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Daily. 
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