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Forum staff reports, Published February 04 2011

Conrad wants corps to accelerate flood defense for Devils Lake, F-M area

WASHINGTON - With threateningly high water levels expected in the coming weeks, North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said Friday he’s urged top Army Corps of Engineers officials to speed up their progress on securing permanent flood protection for Devils Lake and the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Conrad recently met with the corps’ top brass – including Commanding Gen. Robert Van Antwerp and Maj. Gen. William Grisoli, the deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations.

“Given the dire threat posed by record flooding in Devils Lake and projections for major flooding across the state, I’ve asked the corps to ensure our communities get the assistance they need in the short term while also giving our ongoing permanent flood relief projects priority consideration,” Conrad stated in a news release.

Early forecasts for both the Devils Lake and Fargo-Moorhead areas indicate residents should expect a third straight year of historic-level flooding this spring.

Conrad asked the corps leaders to accelerate construction on an embankment raise at Devils Lake to ensure that city is adequately protected and to take steps to ensure protection to other areas in the basin, including the Spirit Lake Nation and Minnewaukan.

He and the corps officials also reviewed the status of the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project, including funding, upstream impacts and the diversion alignment.

The corps reportedly told Conrad it would continue to work to further refine and minimize the effects of the flood protection project in and around the region.

“Corps leadership are very familiar with the challenges we face in North Dakota, and I’m hopeful that we will continue to see significant and timely progress made in Devils Lake, Fargo and surrounding communities in the coming months,” Conrad said.

Conrad vowed to use his position as Senate Budget Committee chairman to support Corps projects during the 2012 fiscal year budget cycle.

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