The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has granted a permit for an updated plan of a Red River diversion project meant to protect flood-prone Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota.
The DNR in October 2016 denied a permit for the original project, leading a federal judge to stop construction that had started southwest of Fargo. The new design is meant to reduce impacts to land in Richland County in North Dakota and Minnesota's Wilkin County. It takes about 8,000 acres out of the flood plain south of the metro area and sends more water through the cities.
The permit includes more than 50 conditions governing project design, construction, operation, and maintenance - among them additional protections for adversely affected property owners.
"For those lands that are affected, there needs to be some compensation for landowners," DNR Commission Tom Landwehr said. "So, this new proposal is much more detailed in how those landowners will be compensated if they have negative impacts."
One of those landowners is Dave Morken who lives upstream from the diversion project, 20 miles south of Fargo.
Morken is president of MNDAK Upstream Coalition, a group of 800 property owners who oppose the diversion plan.
Morken is disappointed with the Minnesota's DNR's decision.
"My family bought this property back in 1913. It his never flooded," Morken said. "If we have another flood like the terms of '09, I would say very, highly, likely, we would be flooded."
Diversion officials say the changes to the plan and construction delays have increased costs by $600 million, to about $2.75 billion.