Diversion Project: Area leaders present their case to Congressman Oberstar(WDAY TV) - The North Dakota diversion project is still on schedule; that today from the Army Corps of Engineers. State and local leaders made their case about the benefits of a diversion with Congressman James Oberstar. He can authorize projects like the diversion.
Images of back to back flood fights in the Red River Valley aren't easily forgotten. National news clips and aerial photos tell the story for area leaders, pleading their case for permanent flood projection.
“We have too great of a threat to too many people, involving too much in terms of even lives at stake, let alone economic consequences. We must move something forward.”
Cost is a big issue to federal leaders. The North Dakota diversion has a 1.4 billion dollar price tag, but local leaders say that's not an outrageous price.
“When you look at what it's costing the federal government, the state governments, our local economies, every time we go through a flood. That's a pretty significant number too.”
Congressman Oberstar is up to speed on the project and understands the need. He says the changing global climate is causing the atmosphere to hold more moisture, making the Red flood higher and more often.
“Its six feet higher in the latest flood crest, than it was 30 years ago. Each year it has been higher.
All the more reason area leaders are pushing for the project because they say failure is something we can't afford.
“And the result in failure, I'll use the Corps' words, is a catastrophic event.
The Corps says it will continue to go through public comments, focusing on the downstream impacts. If the study is completed by December, it will go to Congress for approval next year.
A judge has granted the Cass County joint water board a permit to access land along the proposed diversion route for studies. 5 families who own 8 parcels of land had refused to let engineers on their property to test soil to look at impacts and assess hazardous materials.
Property owners will be paid $250-dollars for each hole drilled for soil testing, as well as any damage to crops.