Minnesota House approves amendment that protects downstream communitiesGeorgetown, Minn. (WDAY TV) - A wrinkle has been thrown into plans for a Minnesota Diversion. Today, the Minnesota House approved a public works funding proposal that includes an amendment forbidding the use of state money on the diversion, unless the Corps of Engineers takes steps to prevent more flooding downstream. It threatens to delay the project.
TRACI GOBLE/GEORGETOWN MAYOR: “We pay taxes too!”
In Georgetown, Minnesota, where the Sheyenne and Buffalo River dump into the Red River, people are glad to hear someone's looking out for small towns downstream from the metro. Mayor Traci Goble says a diversion in Moorhead would push the Red River in Georgetown up seven inches.
“If you're sending it our way, at least protect us from it then.”
Goble says the diversion will cause the Buffalo River to rise as well, which the town can't handle. Last spring, standing here, I would have been under water. The people living in those homes were evacuated by air boats. She said adding just two feet to their levee would cost 1.5 million dollars. The town's budget is less than 20-thousand.
GOBLE: “City with 45 homes, can't afford to lose ten. That's a lot of unhappy people.”
While the amendment provides some comfort for Goble, who does not support a diversion, leaders closer to the diversion project are afraid the amendment may slow the process.
MARK VOXLAND/MOORHEAD MAYOR: “It's not that we're crossways to what Representative Eken wants. I want to make sure what we're putting into law that it kills any chance of the project.”
He says the Corps has no power to take actions to help downstream communities. So any costs related to that would be paid for locally. Voxland's on his way to St. Paul to ask if those costs could count as part of the projects "local share." He also hopes to help develop the amendment's final wording.
VOXLAND: “Make sure we're clear and come to an understanding, so we can keep moving forward.”
With another flood on the way, moving forward is something everyone can agree on. The Red River Basic commission is experimenting with different water retention strategies, viewed as the main option for protecting downstream communities.