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Published April 11 2013

Forum editorial: Diversion schedule unchanged

History shows that presidential budgets are dead on arrival. The gnashing of teeth (and in some quarters, celebrating) because President Barack Obama’s budget proposal does not include funding the Red River diversion is a little over the top. There will be no appreciable slowdown in project planning or on-the-ground work. The diversion still has the enthusiastic support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state leaders, the congressional delegations of two states, and local sponsors.

But back to federal budgets: Currently there are three budget documents ricocheting around Washington, D.C. Senate Democrats have theirs (the first in years), which is going nowhere. House Republicans worship at the altar of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan. It’s going nowhere. And now the president’s three-months-late budget makes headlines, but it, too, is destined to disappear into the maw of congressional inaction and political posturing.

So where does all that leave federal funding for the diversion project? Just about where it was before the president rolled out his budget. The project is supported by senators and key congressmen from North Dakota and Minnesota. Project funding is part of the federal Water Resources Development Act, which is making its way through the U.S. Senate. The corps is looking into continued funding for ongoing work from 2013 allocations. The North Dakota Legislature likely will approve funding for Fargo and Cass County flood control work, much of which is associated with the permanent flood protection the diversion will provide.

A setback? Maybe it’s a short-lived psychological setback for some diversion supporters. But when it comes to substance, when it comes to the diversion moving along on schedule, not much has changed.


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