Dorgan responds to Peterson's remarks
FARGO Coming up with permanent flood protection for the Red River Valley will require a consensus among local leaders, which Sen. Byron Dorgan said will come through dialogue - and pressure from residents tired of fighting high water every spring...
Coming up with permanent flood protection for the Red River Valley will require a consensus among local leaders, which Sen. Byron Dorgan said will come through dialogue - and pressure from residents tired of fighting high water every spring.
Doing nothing to prepare for future Red River floods, "in my judgment, it's not the right approach," Dorgan said Wednesday.
He spoke at a news conference held before a hearing of the Senate's Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee at the Fargodome.
On Tuesday, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he doesn't think a Red River diversion channel had a good chance of being built in Minnesota. Dorgan said he doesn't think anyone knows yet whether the plan is realistic or not.
Dorgan said opinions expressed by Peterson and other officials reflect some of the strong opinions he expects will be heard throughout the process of creating a flood control plan.
"Everybody has a right to their opinion," Dorgan said. "Those are good colleagues. I expect to work with them. ... We may have a few bubbles or burps along the way."
Dorgan, D-N.D., is chairman of the committee, which allocates funding for flood control projects.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is already working on flood-control alternatives for the Red River basin. One possible fix is a 30-mile, $909 million diversion channel through Minnesota.
Another option is $625 million in levees, incorporating Fargo's proposed $161 million Southside Flood Control Project.
Dorgan said getting permanent flood protection is "a bottoms-up, not a top-down" process, which will require local leaders agreeing on a plan that can be vetted by the corps and funded by Congress.
"There is no them, there is only us. In the Red River Valley, there is only us," Dorgan said. "If we all work together and be serious about it, we can do this."
If a plan is approved, it would receive 65 percent of funding from the federal government, with the remaining 35 percent coming from state and local governments.
"A comprehensive project is going to take a lot of effort. I have a lot of confidence in local leaders," Dorgan said. "I think most people living in this area believe there needs to be some added measure of flood protection."
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.