Sincerely, City Hall

Jan 28

[ARCHIVED] Partnerships pushing flood protection toward completion

The original item was published from January 29, 2022 to January 28, 2022 9:53 AM

Protecting the Souris River Basin from future flooding has always been a group effort. Without strong relationships between local, state, and federal partners, the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project certainly wouldn’t be as far along as it is today.

That was evident with the recent news that more than $61 million in federal funding has been secured to help cover the cost of the Maple Diversion project, a vital phase of the overall basin-wide project. When combined with other phases, the Maple Diversion help protect roughly 62 percent of the river valley through Minot.

The efforts to secure federal funding for the Maple Diversion began years ago. In April 2019, Sen. John Hoeven and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite visited Minot to tour the flood control project. While in Minot, Semonite, then the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, signed the Chief’s Report to advance the Maple Diversion to the next step, which was securing federal authorization and funding.

In December 2020, federal authorization to seek federal funding was secured. In recent weeks, $61.45 million in federal funding was also finalized, as was authorization to begin construction. The most recent commitment fulfills the federal government’s 65 percent cost share of this phase; state and local funds will combine to cover the remaining 35 percent of the roughly $90 million cost.

It’s great news for residents of Minot and for the project as a whole. It’s also a testament to what can be achieved when partners at every level of government work together for one cause: The protection of the Souris River Basin. Hoeven and Col. Karl Jansen with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visited Minot to meet with City officials and members of the Souris River Joint Board this past week to review the project’s progress.

We’re expecting design work on the Maple Diversion phase to be completed by the end of 2022. The Souris River Joint Board will request funds from the 2023 North Dakota Legislature so construction can begin.

We’ve always been optimistic about the approval and funding of the Maple Diversion phase, which is Phase 4 of the overall project. The project will tie together several other phases and provide protection for much of northwest Minot in the event of future high water events. It also eliminates the need to acquire about 200 additional homes through buyouts. It’s a pivotal part of the entire project, and we were confident that once our federal partners heard the story of the 2011 flood and the approach to protecting ourselves, the project would find support.

Our key partners, including the Souris River Joint Board, state lawmakers, agencies like the State Water Commission, Gov. Doug Burgum’s office, and our congressional delegation of Hoeven, Sen. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, have been steadfast advocates for Minot and have helped us tell our story to those who needed to hear it. We can’t thank them enough for their ongoing assistance in securing the authorization and funding for this phase of the project.

We certainly aren’t done yet, though. While this is wonderful news, we have several more phases of flood protection to design, fund, and construct before this project is complete. The relationships that have helped us get to this point will continue to be vital as we move this project forward. Even though we’ve made tremendous progress, we know this project likely won’t be completed for another 20 years unless we can find more funding to put it on an accelerated schedule, which could bring completion in 10 to 12 years and save as much as $130 million in construction costs.

The process of bringing the Maple Diversion phase from a concept a few years ago to a point where we could potentially begin construction in 2023 has been nothing short of amazing. We’ve enjoyed tremendous support from a multitude of local, state and federal partners, notably our congressional delegation. The group effort continues, and that sense of community and partnership will serve us well as the overall project continues down the path toward completion.

This project has a long ways to go, but we are committed to finishing the largest infrastructure undertaking in our community’s history. Protecting Minot and its neighbors from future flooding is a cornerstone for our future growth and resilience.

Sincerely, City Hall

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