Hoeven Outlines Move America Legislation to Valley Leaders to Help Advance Flood Protection for Region
Senator's Legislation Could Be Part of Comprehensive Plan
WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp today met in Washington with Red River Valley leaders to help advance permanent flood protection for the region. Hoeven has been working through the Appropriations Committee and also through new legislation, the Move America Act, with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), to help fund the project.
Today’s group included Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams, Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo, City Administrator Pat Zavoral and other area leaders.
“We need a comprehensive approach to flood management to protect people and property in the Valley,” Hoeven said. “A valuable part of that plan could be our Move America program, which will provide funding and give states significant flexibility to pursue infrastructure projects that are badly needed. We’ve designed it to work with the P3 partnership program, so it could be particularly helpful in funding permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley.”
Hoeven underscored the importance of public private partnerships (P3s) to leverage private investment, save money and construct permanent flood protection for the Valley. During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in February, Hoeven urged the Corps to view the Fargo-Moorhead project as a candidate for a P3 project. The senator today pledged to continue to press the Corps as well as the Office of Management and Budget to approve the diversion as a P3 project and budget for it accordingly in future years.
Hoeven has also been working as a member of both the Senate Appropriations and Agriculture Committees to secure funding and advance a four-part, comprehensive flood protection plan that addresses key areas, including:
- Regional flood protection including dikes, levees and other flood protection infrastructure: The federal government has contributed nearly $36 million toward such projects in the Fargo area since 2011, which includes over $16 million for home buyouts to prevent future losses, nearly $15 million for water and sewer system updates and nearly $5 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 the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Last July, 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.
The senator also worked to include other conservation programs in the farm bill that support additional flood protection, like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The USDA named the RRV as part of a critical conservation area under RCPP and, earlier this year, awarded the Red River Retention Authority $12 million from the program, which will help support upstream flood protection efforts in the region.
- Permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead. Hoeven last year worked to secure authorization for permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Previously, the senator worked to secure $35 million for project engineering and design (PED) through the annual appropriations process. Further, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 funding bill includes language allowing the administration to start new construction projects, which helps make the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection project competitive for funding.
- Affordable flood insurance premiums for homes and businesses. Senator Hoeven worked to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which prevents steep flood insurance rate increases, helping ensure that premiums are affordable for American families and businesses. The legislation also continues to allow homeowners to receive credit for flood proofed basements when determining flood insurance rates by allowing for basements to be measured at the lowest opening rather than the lowest floor.
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