The cities of Fargo and Moorhead, together with Cass County, ND and Clay County, MN, remain committed to the F-M Diversion Project that protects 230,000 residents of the metropolitan area. Congress authorized the Project in 2014 to reduce flood risk, property damage, and economic loss. The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority (RWJPA) has filed suit to stop the Corps of Engineers from constructing the first phase of the Project by asking that claims previously dismissed by the Court be resurrected. Legal briefs have been filed, and a scheduling hearing is set with the Court on Thursday, Feb. 23.
“We are a community seriously in need of permanent flood protection,” said Fargo Mayor and current Diversion Board of Authority Chairman Tim Mahoney. “Our citizens understand the sacrifices made to offer protection, and we simply want to work with Richland and Wilkin Counties so those impacted are treated fairly and with respect.”
The RWJPA initially alleged five Counts against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the same against the Diversion Authority in U.S. District Court filings. All five counts against USACE were dismissed. Three counts against the Diversion Authority have been dismissed, and two procedural claims in the case remain.
“The process to approve a federal project is meticulous and does not happen unless you have the right project with the least amount of impact possible,” said Mahoney. “The Diversion Project has received approvals from USACE, Congress, the President, voters in Cass County and Fargo. It is the right project, and the Corps has begun construction activity this week on the USACE portion of the project.”
The Diversion Authority and USACE will mitigate the Project’s impacts. A number of committees and task forces initiated by the Authority are working to minimize impacts to landowners, private and public property, and the environment. This includes forming an Agricultural Subcommittee, a Local Cemetery Mitigation Team, and a Hardship Review Committee. A Mitigation Plan was developed to outline protocols to minimize impacts and compensate property owners. “Residents in the upstream staging area need answers, and our Mitigation Plan is intended to provide these answers,” said Mahoney. “When we get together one-on-one we can solve problems, talk through issues, and build consensus. These people have real concerns, and we want to work on them, but we need to get together – and talk,” Mayor Mahoney urged.
“Our metropolitan area – and the economic health of the entire region, can be protected and ensured for future generations of residents. We need to do this together, and I am committed to seeing this to the end in a collegial and open manner,” said Mahoney.