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Heidi Shaffer, Published December 09 2010

Dalrymple reaffirms commitment to flood protection

Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s reaffirmation Wednesday of the state’s commitment to Fargo flood protection matched what local leaders were anticipating.

The governor’s budget sets aside $30 million over the next two years for a total of $75 million in initial funding for a proposed Fargo-Moorhead diversion.

Dalrymple also reaffirmed former Gov. John Hoeven’s promise of

$300 million over the next 10 years, which makes up about half of the North Dakota-side share of expenses for the proposed $1.5 billion diversion.

“In the Red River Valley, flood protection is an essential, long-term priority,” Dalrymple said in his address. “We need to end the annual anxiety caused by chronic flooding.”

The governor’s budget matches what local leaders were asking for, said Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker.

The $30 million in the next biennium would come from the Resources Trust Fund and ensure state resources are “readily available to begin flood protection work as soon as a plan is finalized,” he said.

During the current biennium, lawmakers earmarked $45 million in initial flood project funding, said Pat Zavoral, Fargo city administrator.

Walaker said he isn’t concerned about the state’s support of flood protection, but he worries about the reception the project will have on the national level.

Cass County Commission Chairman Darrell Vanyo said securing state funding is another “piece of the puzzle” that aids in getting federal support.

When the diversion study gets to Congress for approval and funding, having local dollars secured helps move the project forward, he said.

“We’re hopeful that none of the federal funding should be held up because of local dollars,” Vanyo said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511