October 1, 2014
Mr. Darrell Vanyo, Chairman
FM Diversion Authority
P.O. Box 2806
Fargo, ND 58108-2806
Mr. Perry Miller, Chairman
P.O. Box 455
Wahpeton, ND 58075
Mr. Dave Morken, Chairman
MNDAK Upstream Coalition
17555 62nd St. SE
Walcott, ND 58077
Dear Mr. Vanyo, Mr. Miller and Mr. Morken,
Governor Mark Dayton visited Wilkin and Clay Counties on Sept. 2-3, 2014 to hear from residents and officials regarding the FM Diversion Project. During and after these meetings, Gov. Dayton very clearly stated that there needed to be a more constructive working relationship between the State of Minnesota and the Diversion Authority.
Gov. Dayton wrote in a Sept. 15, 2014 letter to Chairman Darrell Vanyo of the Diversion Authority stressing the “need to re-balance” the representation of the Diversion Authority Board. Further, the Governor would “defer to the judgments of our legislators, who represent both the city of Moorhead and the area impacted by the proposed staging area” regarding Minnesota representation in the project’s decision making process.
Our goal is to provide long-term permanent flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead area to enhance the area’s quality of life and preserve a strong economy. For this goal to succeed, Minnesota’s support is absolutely critical. To secure this support, Minnesota needs to be treated as an equal partner in order to ensure the interests of its communities and residents are protected.
The current configuration and strategy of the Diversion Authority Board will not accomplish the goal of permanent flood protection for the Fargo Moorhead area. The current planned location of the high hazard dam protects undeveloped areas south of Fargo at the expense and to the detriment of Minnesota communities. Further, the Diversion Authority has ignored Minnesota interests and state law in the process.
We believe the following actions and changes must occur to help get this project back on track and assure the successful completion of the project;
1. In order to succeed we must first build a foundation of a good working relationship and broad base support among all stakeholders. Before we build levees we need to build relationships.
2. The project’s decision making process must recognize that this is a cooperative project with the federal government and the two equal states of Minnesota and North Dakota. Approval from both states on all components of the project is necessary for the successful completion of the project. The political reality is that the project will not succeed without the approval from federal and state elected officials of both states of Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Diversion Authority does not recognize Minnesota as an equal partner. This lack of cooperation places the entire project in jeopardy because Minnesota’s support is absolutely critical to the success of the diversion project.
3. We propose a new configuration of the Diversion Authority be created that recognizes an equal partnership between the states of Minnesota and North Dakota. All decisions regarding components of the diversion project would be required to have majority approval from EACH state. This would assure that all decisions would need to follow the process, follow Minnesota law and seriously consider input and proposals from Minnesota communities and residents.
If this new configuration is not accepted, we will propose a new board with Minnesota membership that will make recommendations to the Governor of Minnesota, Minnesota Legislature, and Minnesota’s federal Congressional delegation regarding Minnesota’s interests pertaining to the Diversion Project. This board would have the authority to negotiate with the Diversion Authority in order to ensure Minnesota’s interests are protected.
We believe these actions and changes are the best path forward in achieving completion of the diversion project and the protection of all Minnesota interests and property owners.
Sen. Kent Eken – District 4
Rep. Ben Lien – District 4A
Rep. Paul Marquart – District 4B
Rep. Jay McNamar – District 12A