Construction on the F-M Area Diversion Project is ready to begin as early as 2016 under a private financing plan which could save a significant amount of money and cut the federal share of the project in half, as well as reduce the number of years needed to complete the work.
Under the public/private partnership (P3) plan being considered, the Diversion Authority would contract with a private company to build the channel portion of the F-M Area Diversion Project while the Corps constructs the Southern Embankment. (See a map illustrating the plan)
Congress authorized the P3 model for flood control projects earlier this year as part of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act.
Presidential Signature Authorized F-M Area Diversion Project Construction
On June 10, 2014, President Obama signed a bill into law which authorized construction to move forward on the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project. The signing of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) marked a critical step to acquiring federal funding for the Project, which will build permanent flood protection for approximately 200,000 people in North Dakota and Minnesota.
With authorization secured, the Corps and the local sponsors, represented by Fargo, Moorhead and the Diversion Authority, are working toward signing a project partnership agreement which spells out the cost sharing and construction responsibilities of the Corps of Engineers and the local sponsors.
WRRDA authorized $846 million in federal funding for the Diversion Project. The Diversion Authority is focusing efforts on securing funding to begin construction. 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.
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.
Construction is underway on the Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke (OHB) Levee project, which will independently provide approximately 200 residences in North Dakota with permanent flood protection. The levee will protect the communities from water that would be stored upstream of Fargo-Moorhead by the Diversion Project.
The North DakotaState Water Commission issued a permit for the construction of the levee on June 19, 2014, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a similar permit on June 20, 2014. The contractor received the construction notice to proceed on June 23, 2014, and began constructing the OHB Levee on that date.
The project is being fully funded through funds appropriated by the North Dakota legislature and through local sales tax revenue in Cass County and Fargo. No Minnesota entity, including any Minnesota member of the Diversion Authority, will provide funding for the ring dike.
The OHB Levee project has no impact on the river levels in Minnesota, though the project is included as a mitigation feature of the Diversion Project in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (MDNR’s) Environental Impact Study (EIS). The study is expected to be completed sometime in 2015. The DNR needs to complete the EIS in order to identify any environmental effects that should be addressed by the Diversion Project.