Hoeven: Corps Work Plan Includes Funding to Begin Construction on Permanent Flood Protection Project for the Red River Valley

Senator Worked to Secure Authorization and Funding

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected the permanent flood protection‎ project for the Red River Valley as one of six that will begin construction in Fiscal Year 2016. The Corps’ work plan, which the senator worked to both authorize and fund, includes $5 million Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year to get the project started and is contingent on addressing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources process.

“Today’s announcement represents an important step for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley,” Hoeven said. “It marks a federal commitment to move forward with construction. I also appreciate that the Corps has taken this step using P3s, which establishes a template for the way the Corps will develop and fund future water projects across the country. The Project Partnership Agreement for the start of construction is contingent on the Assistant Secretary of the Army determining that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ regulatory process has been addressed. While this is a big step forward, we still have work to do.”

Hoeven’s continues his work to advance a four-part approach to comprehensive flood protection for the Red River Valley that includes:

  • Regional flood protection such as dikes, levees and other flood protection infrastructure
  • Upstream flood protection through rural water management
  • Permanent flood protection for the Red River Valley
  • Affordable flood insurance premiums for homes and businesses

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven wrote and secured language in the Fiscal Year 2016 year-end appropriations bill directing the Corps to begin construction on projects financed through public-private partnerships, also known as P3 projects. The legislation also included an additional $690 million in the Army Corps of Engineer’s budget for construction of projects like the permanent flood protection project for the Red River Valley.

Last year, Hoeven secured support for starting construction on the Red River Valley permanent flood protection project during a meeting with Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and Army Corps Chief of Engineers Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick. Hoeven then followed up with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shawn Donovan to urge support for the Minot and Red River Valley projects, which required signoff from OMB to move forward. Most recently, the senator spoke with the OMB director last month to urge his support.

Hoeven also serves as the chairman for the Senate Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security, where he oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s annual budget. The senator has worked in that role to support a comprehensive permanent flood protection plan for the Red River Valley, including:

  • Regional flood protection such as dikes, levees and other flood protection infrastructure. The federal government has contributed more than $49 million toward such projects in the Red River Valley area since 2011, which includes over $25.6 million for home buyouts to prevent future losses, more than $18 million for water and sewer system updates and more than $5.3 million for new and updated infrastructure, such as bridge replacements and levees.
  • Upstream flood protection. Hoeven worked as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and conferee on the 2014 farm bill conference committee to create programs and provide funding for rural water management and flood protection, including $500 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that can be used in part to support flood protection in the region, as well as other conservation, rural development and energy programs. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will use these programs to provide $50 million in targeted assistance to the region to address upstream concerns. Other USDA programs include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP).
  • Flood Plain Mapping and Hazard Mitigation. The year-end appropriations legislation also directs FEMA to take local communities’ flood protection projects into account when mapping flood hazards and to coordinate the mapping process with the phases of large projects. The measure also provides an additional $165 million above the fiscal year 2015 level for flood mitigation programs and boosts the Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program to $190 million, a 53 percent increase, and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program to $100 million, a 300 percent increase.

The senator has worked hard to secure authorization and funding to get construction of a flood protection project underway for the region. After submission to Congress of the Corps Chief of Engineers’ report with final recommendations and approval for the Red River Valley permanent flood protection project, Hoeven worked to include language in the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act to provide congressional authorization, which was required to obtain initial federal funding for construction to begin in FY16.