The U.S. House has approved a bill which would authorize construction on the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) is the latest step to acquiring federal funding for the Project which will build permanent flood protection for approximately 200,000 people in North Dakota and Minnesota.
“Years of study and hard work are paying off. We have fine-tuned a proven engineering concept and have made improvements to it through peer reviews and public input at countless open meetings,” said Darrell Vanyo, Chairman of the Flood Diversion Board of Authority. “We are pleased that the House has recognized the value and necessity of this Project.”
WRRDA authorizes $846 million in federal funding for the Diversion Project, and is scheduled to go before the U.S. Senate in the coming days. Its approval in the Senate would send the bill to President Obama for his signature.
Earlier House and Senate versions of the bill were passed last year with overwhelming support. A bipartisan conference committee worked to reconcile the differences between the two versions before sending the revised bill back to the House and Senate.
The State of North Dakota has already committed $175 million to the Diversion Project, in addition to legislative intent for an additional $275 million over the next four bienniums. Voters in the City of Fargo and Cass County have overwhelmingly approved two dedicated local sales taxes to help fund the Project. With modest growth, the sales taxes are expected to jointly raise $700 million over the life of the tax.
Following a presidential signature, the Diversion Authority would focus efforts on securing funding to begin construction on the Diversion Project. Federal funding is expected to be appropriated over time. Funding from the State of North Dakota can only be used for the Diversion once federal funding for construction is received.