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Fargo-Moorhead flood-diversion leaders may listen to Minnesota concerns

Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders in northwestern Minnesota have complained that plans for a flood diversion project along the Red River are moving too fast, and need environmental review from the state DNR.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent complaints about the flood diversion project along the Red River near Fargo and Moorhead may be paying off.

The governor and other state leaders want the $1.8 billion project slowed a bit, so that Minnesota’s DNR can conduct environmental studies to better know the impact of possible flooding on nearby Minnesota farm fields.

They’re worried that a 36-mile channel aimed at diverting major flood waters around Fargo-Moorhead would flood farmland south of those cities.

And on a trip to the area last week Dayton warned about moving ahead without consideration of the impact: “If you’re going to kick sand in the face of Minnesota … it will come back to haunt you. I’m certain of that.”

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So on Monday, Darrell Vanyo, chairman of the Diversion Authority board (and a Cass County commissioner in North Dakota), sent a letter to Dayton, offering commitments to address Minnesota’s concerns.

And Vanyo told the Fargo Forum Monday: “We aren’t about trying to snub our nose at Minnesota. We really would like to make an effort to be in their good graces.”

Although the Diversion Authority has yet to approve any changes, Vanyo indicated that he’d support limiting future construction of the ring dike until the Minnesota review is complete, but wants that finished within a year.

Gov. Dayton’s office said he’s received the letter and is reviewing it.