Funding for the FM Area Diversion Project received a DO PASS recommendation from the North Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 11-1. Senate Bill 2020 (SB2020), which includes $69 million for the Diversion, will now head to a vote by the full Senate in the next couple of days. The $69 million is part of the $450 million the State has committed for the Diversion Project.
SB2020 is the legislation that carries the Governor’s budget for the State Water Commission and contains funding for water projects across the State. Diversion Authority representatives have spent several weeks testifying before the Appropriations Committee and subcommittee, speaking with legislators, and working with the State Water Commission to provide progress updates. If approved of by the Senate, SB2020 will cross over to the House where it will again go through the hearing process.
The legislation was amended by the Appropriations Committee to include a section which incorporated part of Senate Bill 2076, which originally called on the State Water Commission to study an alternative to the Diversion Project. The Senate’s Energy Natural Resources Committee had previous dismissed the idea that the State should study an alternative to the Diversion Project and amended SB2076 to remove the study. SB2020 now calls on the State to work with the Diversion Authority and North Dakota State University to continue and expand their efforts to study the impact on crop production.
The $69 million that would be approved with the passage of SB2020 would be in addition to the $175 million the Legislature has previously appropriated for the Diversion Project. SB2020 also includes legislative intent to provide an additional $206 million in future sessions for the same purpose.