Hoeven Presses Army Corps Major General Wehr to Continue Progress on Fargo Permanent Flood Protection

Senator Working on Comprehensive Flood Protection Plan for the Region

FARGO – Senator John Hoeven today pressed Maj. Gen. Michael C. Wehr, Commander for the Mississippi Valley Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to continue moving forward on permanent flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead area. Hoeven urged Corps officials to work with him and his colleagues in Congress and the local project sponsors to help move construction of the project forward, particularly through the development of a public-private partnership to expedite construction.

“We’ve worked hard in Congress to keep the project moving and provide the means to make it a reality,” Hoeven said. “That includes authorizing the project, providing funds for its study and design, authorizing new construction projects and securing funds for programs to support rural water management and regional flood infrastructure to reduce impacts. We will continue our efforts to make additional options available for its funding and financing, and we need the Corps to work with us and take the necessary steps to begin construction.”

Hoeven is working toward a four-part, comprehensive flood protection plan for the Red River Valley, including regional flood protection infrastructure, upstream flood protection through rural water management, permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead and affordable flood insurance premiums for homes and businesses.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Hoeven worked to ensure the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill included language allowing the administration to start new construction projects. Further, the bill directs the administration to prioritize projects where the local project sponsor is prepared to pay its share of the project’s total cost and where the local sponsor can implement the project by identifying alternate sources of funding to bring down the federal government’s share of project costs, a provision which helps the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection project compete for funding.

However, the project did not receive funding in the Corps’ FY15 work plan nor in the President’s FY16 budget. Hoeven said other options may be available to prevent delays in the construction and reduce costs, including redesigning the project as a public-private partnership. The senator discussed the public-private partnership option with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget last month and will raise it with the Corps of Engineers leadership in Washington during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing next week. 

Last month, Hoeven announced a $12 million award to the Red River Retention Authority (RRRA) for water management and flood protection in the Red River Valley in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. The funds are made available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a 2014 farm bill program which combines four existing programs into one streamlined, efficient rural water management and flood protection program.  

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a conferee on the 2014 farm bill conference committee, Hoeven worked with colleagues in the Senate and House to create the RCPP and include other conservation program tools in the farm bill to support rural water management and flood protection in the Red River Valley, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP).