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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 23 2010

Fargo, Cass must decide which government will sponsor diversion

Fargo and Cass County officials will be going eyeball-to-eyeball to determine which government will be the North Dakota sponsor for a Red River diversion channel.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Cass County Commissioner Scott Wagner debated the issue Thursday at a meeting of the Metro Flood Study Work Group.

Participants were told by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project co-manager Aaron Snyder that the project must have local sponsors sign a pact with the corps by July 15.

That pact would have the sponsors take responsibility for the project, pay bills, and handle maintenance.

Clay County Commissioner Chairman Kevin Campbell said it won’t be hard for Moorhead and the county to agree on a Minnesota sponsor.

But that sort of comity appears harder to come by west of the Red.

Walaker said study sponsors Fargo and Moorhead should be the diversion sponsors.

“Why do we basically want to gum up the works?” he argued.

Wagner replied that the diversion won’t be built in the city. The landowners elected the county commissioners, he said.

“When I look at the landscape, the dynamics here, we should have that conversation,” Wagner said.

Walaker asked if both Fargo and Cass County could sign together, but Snyder said the pact becomes too complex with more than two sponsors.

Fargo City Commissioner Tim Mahoney agreed that talks between the city and county are needed and said the city would consult with the congressional delegation for guidance.

In other business:


Keeping diversion on track a top priority

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on several issues to ensure that plans for a Red River diversion channel to protect the metro area stay on track to be in a bill before Congress in December.

A downstream stakeholders meeting is planned for June 15 in Hendrum, Minn.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583