F-M Area Diversion Project officials are pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2014 work plan includes $6.3 million to complete the planning, engineering and design (PED) of the Project.
Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp made the announcement earlier this month. In Fiscal Year 2013, Hoeven, a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, worked with colleagues on the committee and Heitkamp pushed the Administration to ensure that $7.4 million in funding was allocated for project development and design. Both made sure that a similar amount of funding was appropriated in FY 2014 for the Diversion Project, as well as funding for other flood control and recovery projects.
Hoeven and Heitkamp, along with representatives from the Diversion Authority, have met frequently with top officials from the Army Corps of Engineers to press them to include funding for the Diversion in the Corps’ work plan. Discussions were also held with U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell regarding funding for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley.
“This will bring total funding for the project to $40 million, which will enable the Corps to complete the project engineering and design phase,” Hoeven said. “Also, we have included authorization for the project in the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). Our challenge now is to secure funding for Fiscal Year 2015.”
“Because of this federal funding, the design phase of the diversion will finally be completed – a milestone which we have worked so hard to accomplish,” said Heitkamp. “Flooding is too often a reality in the Fargo-Moorhead region, and we need to do everything we can to protect North Dakotans’ homes and families from these devastating natural disasters. I’ve been working closely with federal and local officials to highlight how crucial funding for this project is and why it’s so imperative that we see it through. We now need to make sure Congress can reach an agreement on its water resources bill so we can authorize federal funding for the construction of diversion and get the project built.”
Last month, Heitkamp and Hoeven reached out to Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and Chief of the Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick to again request inclusion of funding in the plan for the Diversion Project.
Earlier this month, the senators also met with local officials from the Diversion Authority in Washington to coordinate their efforts. Diversion Authority Chair Darrell Vanyo said the discussions were productive, as were other meetings which included representatives of the Office of Management and Budget and the Corps of Engineers.
“In every meeting we attended, we received positive signals that WRDA will be passed and signed in the next few months,” said Vanyo. “The Diversion Project remains well-supported in Washington. In the meantime, preparations for implementing the Oxbow Hickson Bakke levee project and other local activities remain in full swing.”
In addition, Senators Heitkamp and Hoeven are continuing to work with the Corps and the Diversion Authority to address upstream concerns and are also seeking to address these interests through other avenues, such as the recently passed farm bill. The farm bill includes rural water management and flood protection provisions, such as $500 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that can be used in part to support flood protection in the Red River Valley.