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Minnesota DNR Issues Final Agency Decision upholding permit to construct the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project

The Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA) announced today that it has received the Final Agency Decision from the Minnesota DNR affirming its decision to grant the Dam Safety and Public Waters Work Permit issued by the DNR in 2018. This will allow the MFDA to continue with construction of the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project (the “Project”).

The DNR’s decision in 2018 to issue the permit was appealed by opponents of the Project which prevented construction of some elements of the Project. The MFDA and the opponents who appealed the DNR’s decision have since agreed to settle all cases challenging the Diversion Project and the DNR conducted a rigorous second internal independent review of the permit affirming its 2018 decision.

Joel Paulsen, Executive Director of the MFDA, said, “The affirmation of the Minnesota DNR permit is another important milestone for the Flood Diversion Project that moves us closer to providing permanent flood protection for the region. Specifically, the permit allows us to work directly with affected Minnesota landowners and provide them with certainty of project impacts and property rights acquisition needs. We were required to wait for the Contested Case and the DNR review and now with the affirmation of the permit, our team is ready to act.”

Under terms of the DNR permit, the MFDA will be required to obtain property rights for all land impacted by the project up to the probable maximum flood event.
The original permit was granted by the Minnesota DNR in 2018 and challenges were later filed and reviewed by Judge Ann O’Reilly (ALJ). Challenges related to the amount of land that would potentially be impacted by the project have been resolved.

“With this permit granted, we can move ahead on the critical selection of a construction bid through a Public Private Partnership (P3). The P3 Developer will construct the diversion channel and related infrastructure elements of the Project. We expect to announce the P3 bid selection in April, with construction starting in the Fall 2021 and continuing through 2027,” said Paulsen.

The Project is being delivered through a split-delivery method with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACE is responsible for the construction of the Southern Embankment and Associated Infrastructure and the MFDA is responsible for construction of the Diversion Channel and Associated Infrastructure.

The MFDA is the governing authority managing the Diversion Project. The Project is designed to provide permanent, reliable flood protection to the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The Project began construction in 2017 with completion planned for 2028.