Hoeven: Full Senate Passes WRDA Bill with Authorization for Fargo-Moorhead Permanent Flood Protection

Also Includes Hoeven Amendment Barring Corps from Charging Fees for Missouri River Reservoir Water

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate has passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which includes authorization for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley and legislation barring the Army Corps of Engineers from charging residents and businesses for Missouri River reservoir water.

“The WRDA bill successfully addresses two important priorities for North Dakota, one in the east and one in the west,” Hoeven said. “With authorization for permanent flood control in the Red River Valley we take a big step toward the construction phase of the project, and with inclusion of our States’ Water Rights Act, we block a misguided and unfair proposal by the Corps to charge a fee for access to Missouri River reservoirs.”

Permanent Flood Protection for the Red River Valley

Authorization obligates funding for construction of the project, which represents a large ste[. Hoeven said. Because of the scale and expense of the project, federal funding will need to be appropriated each year on an ongoing basis to cover the cost, which will be shared by the local, state and federal government.

The total cost of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project is roughly $1.8 billion, with 45 percent, or $800 million, assumed by the federal government. The nonfederal share will be split three ways: the state of Minnesota will assume $100 million, and the state of North Dakota and local government will assume the balance, $450 million each.

“Permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead will be one of the largest and most important projects our state has ever undertaken,” Hoeven said. “This is a project that will protect a quarter of a million people in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We need to maintain our momentum and move it ahead. We need to put the cost and hardship of annual flood fights behind us.”

Protecting Access to the Missouri River Reservoirs

The WRDA bill also includes an amendment authored by Senator Hoeven that bars the Army Corps of Engineers from charging an unprecedented surplus water fee for access to Missouri River reservoirs. The States’ Water Rights Act fixes in law that charging fees for “surplus water” would violate a state’s right to the waters that naturally flow through its boundaries as recognized by the federal government.

“North Dakota has fought long and hard to preserve the integrity of the Missouri River and the rights of our people to use it to support their homes and their livelihoods,” Hoeven said. “We cannot allow the federal government to charge us for water that historically, legally and ethically belongs to the citizens and tribes of North Dakota or any other Missouri River state that sacrificed valuable land and resources to the Pick–Sloan Missouri Basin Program.”