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Amendment puts adds hurdle to Fargo diversion

BISMARCK -- Fargo may now have to wait for federal funding before it can move ahead with the full Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project.

After a divisive hour-long debate Tuesday, the North Dakota Senate amended the State's Water Commission budget, House Bill 1020, that allows for $450 million in state funding for the Red River flood control project. A floor amendment was added by a 24-23 vote that allows state funding to be available only for levee and dike protection until the full federal share of the cost is appropriated by Congress.

Before the amendment, the bill only required federal authorization to begin the project and receive state funding. It did not require a federal appropriation of funding.

The amended bill, which passed 44-3, will go back to the House, which had previously passed its own version of the bill. The House will have to agree to the Senate changes or send it to a conference committee to iron out the differences.

The diversion was not included in President Barack Obama's recently released budget outline.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.