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OUR OPINION: Diversion deserves local support

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opinion Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks Herald
(701) 780-1123 customer support
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Did you notice? This year’s flood season once again has come and gone. And once again, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks residents sat high and dry, never having to give the Red River a second thought.

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When was the last time the words "Sandbag Central" crossed your mind?

Exactly. And while it’s true that the river this spring barely crept over its banks, it’s also true that every spring used to make residents jittery with "flood nerves."

But Grand Cities residents haven’t had to worry like that for years. What a priceless gift that has been: The gift of a worry-free spring.

In part, local residents have Fargo and Moorhead to thank. Now, it’s Fargo and Moorhead’s turn; and Grand Forks and East Grand Forks should return the favor.

This week, President Barack Obama signed a bill authorizing construction of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project. The next step will be to draft and sign "a project partnership agreement which spells out the cost sharing and construction responsibilities of the Corps of Engineers and the local sponsors," Valley News Live reported.

When Grand Forks’ dike-construction project came before the Legislature, Fargo lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor. The result was $135 million toward the project’s $409 million cost.

Likewise, when Minnesota considered the issue, the state — urged on by Moorhead and other communities — sent $65 million to cover Minnesota’s share.

Today, having won the U.S. government’s approval, the diversion project will be going back to the states. And to the extent that Grand Cities lawmakers can offer their own support, they should do so.

We’d add this caveat: The final agreement must be generous to those upstream communities and residents who’ll be hurt by the diversion. But once that need has been met, then let construction proceed — and let the residents of the region’s largest metro area also enjoy the gift of a worry-free spring.

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Tom Dennis
(701) 780-1276
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