Diversion Authority to Appeal Permit Decision by the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District
The Diversion Board of Authority voted to appeal the decision by the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) to deny a permit for the FM Area Diversion Project and to direct legal counsel to explore all other legal actions. The BRRWD voted 3-3 on the permit application June 24, 2019 at which time it excused the audience related to that topic. Later at the same meeting, the BRRWD voted 4-2 to deny the permit application without notifying the public or the permit applicant.
“We worked in good faith with the Watershed District for months on ten permit conditions to address their concerns, which are in addition to the 54 conditions of the DNR’s permit, so we are confident our permit application more than complied with the rules that govern the Watershed District,” said Cass County Commissioner Mary Scherling, Chair of the Diversion Authority. “The Authority Board felt that the Watershed District’s action clearly conflicted with their own rules and with the earlier Order by the DNR Commissioner allowing for reasonable local conditions consistent with Minnesota laws.”
“The Minnesota DNR’s decision to grant a permit last December after a detailed study of 33 alternatives shows that this Project complies with Minnesota law and is the right Project. For the Watershed to turn their nose up at the findings of the DNR and the work of two Governors’ Taskforce really left our board no choice but to appeal,” said Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell, Vice-Chair of the Diversion Authority. “BRRWD actions will only end up costing local taxpayers more money, so we have also directed our legal counsel to explore all legal options available to us against those who would rather play games than protect Clay and Cass County from flooding.”
The Diversion Authority applied for a permit in January for work within the BRRWD. After months of coordination with the Diversion Authority, the Army Corps, and the Minnesota DNR, the BRRWD released draft permit conditions. The BRRWD requested an extension to act on the permit through June 28, 2019, which had been granted by the Diversion Authority.
“Construction on the Diversion Project for this year is moving forward and is not impacted by the actions by the Watershed. The Project is still critical to the people of Cass and Clay Counties, and will get built,” said Scherling.