211 9th Street South, P.o . Box 2806, Fargo, ND 58108- 2806
Phone 701-241-5600 Fax 701-241-5728
September 8th, 2014
The Honorable Mark Dayton
Governor Mark Dayton
116 Veterans Service Building
20 West 12th St.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Dear Governor Dayton,
Thank you for visiting our community, and for the opportunity to discuss the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Control Project. Your presence here, and the sometimes spirited debate that ensued, provided a constructive step in the process of resolving some of the issues that have created concerns. While reasonable minds can agree to disagree about some of the issues, we were heartened to hear you’re your statement on Point of View that it is nearly unanimous that some form of long term diversion project is needed.” We can probably also agree that no matter what the final design of that permanent protection may turn out to be, some people are likely going to be unhappy, and as much as I wish I could promise we can make everyone happy, I suspect we never will be able to do that.
But we also heard, loud and clear, your concern that we had not adequately respected Minnesota’s process. I explained at our meeting that this was certainly not our intention. I am also reaching out to you to see jf we can improve on that, starting with a number of commitments that I am prepared to advocate that the Diversion Authority adopt. We hope that you will agree that these commitments demonstrate our good faith. While we are optimistic that Congress sees the enormous value of what is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain permanent flood protection, we hope you agree that any continued disagreement at the local level sends the wrong signal.
Limiting Work on the OHB levees to 100 year protection until the EIS is complete. The Diversion Authority, in consultation with Oxbow, would agree to limit levee construction to those features that provide 100 year protection from natural floods until the Minnesota EIS is finished. Although there does not appear to be any engineering dispute that full construction of the OHB levee would not have any impact on Minnesota, this would allow continued progress on an existing need, while addressing the concerns about levee work getting ahead of Minnesota’s processes.
Delaying Construction of the Diversion Channel until the EIS is complete. The Diversion Authority would agree to not commence actual construction of any portion of the channel assigned to it for work-in-kind contribution until the MDNR finishes its review, with the understanding that the MDNR will agree to use its best efforts to have a final EIS completed by July 1, 2015. We think it is fair to note that even that date is over 7 months after the MDNR is legally obligated to have completed its review.
Adding Broader Geographic Representation to the Diversion Authority Board. The Diversion Authority would agree to add representation from a broader geographic area, including upstream Minnesota interests. Minnesota actually has greater representation on the current Diversion Authority Board than would be expected based on funding contributions, but I am prepared to propose adjustments that would provide a seat at the table for areas not currently represented. This would be with the understanding that any additional member(s) would recuse themselves from closed session discussions of any litigation in which they have an interest, such as the pending litigation commenced by the Richland/Wilkin JPA .. Should any relevant litigation end, this condition would also end.
In addition to Board representation, I will advocate that the Board make additional visits to outlying affected areas. There was extensive outreach during the federal environmental review and design process, and I will advocate additional measures through completion of the Minnesota process.
Expediting the Resolution of the Pending Litigation. The Diversion Authority agrees to use its best efforts to seek a prompt resolution of the litigation commenced against it by the JPA, starting with a letter to the court requesting an immediate status conference to discuss how best to do that.
I am making these commitments with the clear understanding that we have not been given assurance that you will not pursue your ongoing efforts to block funding for the project, but I will ask you to consider that step. As I noted earlier, we might not be able to agree on everything even after we take all of the steps I have outlined above, but I hope we can agree that we are all better served if we can obtain permanent flood control for our communities as soon as possible.
|cc:||Assist ant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy|
|Senator John Hoeven|
|Senator Heidi Heitkamp|
|Senator Amy Klobuchar|
|Senator AI Franken|
|Congressman Kevin Cramer|
|Congressman Collin Peterson|
|Congresswoman Betty McCollum|
|Congressman John Kline|
|Congressman Tim Walz|
|Congresswoman Michele Bachmann|
|Congressman Keith Ellison|
|Congressman Erik Paulsen|
|Congressman Rick Nolan|
|Governor Jack Dalrymple|
|Senator Kent Eken|
|Senator Torrey Westrom|
|Representative Ben lien|
|Representative Paul Marquart|
|Representative Jay McNamar|
|DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr|
|Lt. General Thomas Bostick, Chief of Engineers, US Army Corps of Engineers|
|Mr. Shaun Donovan, Director, Office of Management & Budget, the White House|