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Published December 06 2012

Forum editorial: Dalrymple's budget includes flood aid

Another vital piece of the Red River diversion puzzle fell into place this week when North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple unveiled his two-year budget proposal. Included in his $12.8 billion spending package is a $102 million installment for Fargo-area flood control projects. The big flood control project for Fargo is the diversion, which is well into the planning and engineering stages.

The news was greeted with smiles by Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, not only because the governor’s budget is confirmation of his support for the diversion but also because the proposed appropriation will fund ongoing pre-diversion flood works that will protect the city in most floods until the diversion becomes operational. The money also means that uncertainty about federal funding is less of a headache because the state intends to step up.

Dalrymple’s inclusion of Fargo flood projects money, specifically funds to continue diversion work, fits nicely into the progress the project has made in the past two years. At every step of the way, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local Diversion Authority have been successful in winning required approval for the massive plan. The state funding factor enhances the project’s chances of staying on track.

Furthermore, voters on Nov. 6 either elected or re-elected state and local officeholders who supported the diversion. Several who expressed doubts or tried to pander to project opponents, lost at the polls. Overall, the election was another endorsement of the diversion.

Reliable federal funding remains the wild card. The nation’s budget and deficit problems are serious. Even as the diversion gets high marks in every federal review and assessment, federal money for water projects is not guaranteed. In that unclear federal picture, the state’s role becomes essential. North Dakota has more money flowing into its coffers than at any time in the state’s history. It is quite reasonable to expect state investment in a major state flood protection project to be available for the long term. The governor’s budget suggests he sees it the same way.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.