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Published August 19, 2013, 08:33 PM

Federal lawsuit filed against Army Corp of Engineers

Richland-Wilkin, ND (WDAY TV) - A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Army Corp of Engineers. The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority claims the environmental impact statement goes against federal and state law.

Richland-Wilkin, ND (WDAY TV) - A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Army Corp of Engineers. The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority claims the environmental impact statement goes against federal and state law.

Tim Fox - Wilkin County States Attorney: "If you're talking about protecting people from flooding, you don't flood other people to do that."

That's the issue at hand. Wilkin County States Attorney Tim Fox says the Diversion submitted to Congress is overpriced, overbuilt and inflicts unnecessary damage to the rest of the Red River Basin.

Tim Fox: "We make a decision to remove land from a flood plain and flood other people. That's contrary to what federal law is and what state law is in Minnesota."

Fox says what spurred this lawsuit - approved unanimously by the commissioners - is that other viable options that would do less damage were overlooked.

Tim Fox: "The one that we've talked about most often is distributed storage. That's been completely ignored by the Army Corp of engineers."

The lawsuit details the plaintiffs, member organizations and cities represented will suffer irreparable harm if the current diversion be authorized and implemented by congress.

Tim Fox: "The decision, as we say, we think will be favorable that the Army Corp acted arbitrary and capricious and unlawful."

Fox says this 35 page complaint gives people who wouldn't otherwise have a voice a chance to be heard.

David Morken lives four miles south of Christine. His farm has been in his family for 100 years and never flooded.

David Morken - Christine: "What they tell us is that I'm looking at probably 6 inches to a foot of an impact due to the project."

Morken says he isn't happy it had to come to a lawsuit, but something has to be done to protect the upstream land.

David Morken: "That's the only thing we have left to us available is to take this action."

After the legal process, both Fox and Morken hope something can be done to prevent unnecessary harm. This lawsuit will not go to court, but will be looked over by a federal judge to see if there is any violations of the law. That could take months.

The lawsuit isn't surprising to some members of the Diversion Authority. Chairperson Darrel Vanyo says it'll take time to see what effect the lawsuit will have on the diversion. He says although he doesn't know all of the details yet, he does know the Army Corp has crossed all of the Ts and dotted all the Is.

Darrel Vanyo - Division Board Chair: "Years ago, we were told to make sure everything is bullet proof, so if there is something that has happened here that opens the door for litigation, I think the corps would be equally surprised."

Vanyo says this lawsuit shouldn't immediately put a stop to the diversion.

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