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Published November 17, 2011, 06:47 PM

Diversion opposition pushing for upstream retention

Oxbow, ND (WDAY TV) - The diversion plan is known as the locally preferred plan. But it isn't preferred by everyone. If it goes through, hundreds of people and businesses upstream could be displaced and bought out. They're not giving up without a fight.

The diversion plan is known as the locally preferred plan. But it isn't preferred by everyone. If it goes through, hundreds of people and businesses upstream could be displaced and bought out. They're not giving up without a fight.

Since the locally preferred diversion plan came to light, property values in communities like Hickson and Oxbow have plummeted. But the MN-Dak Upstream Coalition continues to fight back, now saying the area could be up to $690 dollars short in paying for the diversion.

Dan Zink – Oxbow City Council: “What will happen to our homes? What will happen to our schools, our church, our farms, our businesses? Will we be forced to move?”

Figures released by the MN-Dak Upstream Coalition say the local share, not including congressional funding, would be $1.5 billion - making the total cost more than $2.3 billion.

Craig Hertsgaard – MN-Dak Upstream Coalition: “At this point there are not enough sources of revenue to meet what the projections are.”

But Cass County is sticking with it's projection of $1.8 billion.

Keith Berndt – Cass County Administrator: “That was put together by estimators and economists so they have taken into account the time value of money, interest and those types of things.”

The Coalition is pushing for upstream retention, but county engineer Keith Berndt says all options have been studied thoroughly.

Keith Berndt: “Upstream retention, levees, all of those things have been studied. The conclusion that we've reached is that the best plan is one that combines a diversion with storage immediately upstream of the project.”

The Coalition says if it cannot stop the diversion from happening, it could take legal action. The coalitions figures account for $397 million more in interest and maintenance costs.

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