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Forum staff reports, Published November 11 2013

F-M Diversion Authority added as defendant in lawsuit

FARGO – A federal judge has granted the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Au-thority’s request to join as a defendant in a lawsuit against the proposed flood protection project.

The Diversion Authority filed a motion late last month to join the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in defending the lawsuit. Its request was scheduled for a Nov. 26 hearing, but magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois approved the request last week and canceled the hearing, in part because the diversion opponents who filed the suit were OK with the authority joining, ac-cording to court filings.

The federal lawsuit filed by the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, accuses diversion leaders of unnecessarily expanding the scope of the flood pro-tection project, multiplying its estimated cost to $1.8 billion. The suit also claims the project will damage farmland south of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, where water would collect during severe floods.

Diversion Authority leaders have said they wanted to join the lawsuit to adequately represent the interests of the Fargo-Moorhead area.

In granting its request, Brisbois also required the Diversion Authority to respond to the suit’s allega-tions by Nov. 29, according to court filings. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the main federal sponsor of the project, has not yet responded.