Obama’s signature officially authorizes Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project
FARGO — President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed legislation authorizing the $1.8 billion diversion to protect Fargo-Moorhead from catastrophic flooding.
Authorization came from the president’s signature on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which authorized the flood protection project, a 36-mile diversion channel, intended to protect a metro population of about 200,000.
“I think we should celebrate today,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who was on hand for the signing, accompanied by Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker.
But Heitkamp said a lot of work remains to be done to secure appropriations for the project’s federal share, authorized at $846 million under the legislation signed Tuesday.
Heitkamp again urged the Diversion Authority to work with upstream landowners to minimize impacts from a water staging area in order to gain more local support for the project.
“Our work is made easier if everybody in North Dakota is pulling in the same direction,” she said, adding that she is working with Obama administration officials to improve the project’s cost-benefit ratio.
The water development act also prohibits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from charging a fee for using water stored in reservoirs on the Missouri River, including Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe in North Dakota, a provision authored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and supported by Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Collin Peterson, all Democrats, also voted in favor of the water projects bill.