Fargo mayor: Blame Congress for diversion delays

Published 9:40 am Friday, July 12, 2013

FARGO, N.D. — The mayor of a North Dakota city that has battled major flooding for four of the last five years said Thursday that area residents should be blaming Congress rather than squabbling among themselves about a proposed Red River diversion project.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker told fellow members of the Red River Diversion Authority board that he doesn’t understand recent complaints by some members of the neighboring city council in Moorhead who are upset about spending increases on the design of a project that has not been authorized by Congress. The group originally had a $30 million design budget, but has requested an additional $30 million until the project is approved.

“This attitude that we can’t move forward because we can’t find money? It’s not our problem. It’s the federal government’s problem and they are as dysfunctional as you can imagine,” Walaker told the group of city and county leaders. “I mean that seriously. They can’t even get a farm bill.

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“People who want both authorization and appropriations at the same time are not looking at this correctly. The first step is authorization and then we get on a list,” he said.