A quest for funding

Leah Rogne, Gheen, Minn.

Recent news reports on the Fargo Diversion painted an overly rosy view of the chances for funding. Contrary to some reports, no funding is attached to the water resources authorization bill Sen. John Hoeven says is headed for the Senate floor. With a Senate and House that rarely agree on anything and a House dominated by dogmatically committed budget hawks, chances for funding this project are virtually non-existent.

Anyone who talks with D.C. insiders watching the whole funding process-as I did recently-will find the idea that funding is on the horizon ludicrous. When I asked a committee staffer about when he could predict the project would be funded, he laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed-and then laughed some more.

The only major federal flood projects funded this year were for ecosystem restoration and buy-outs of flood prone property. The days of funding for big traditional flood control projects like the almost $2 billion diversion are long past in budget conscious Washington. Considering the very dim prospects for federal funding, continuing to spend state and local taxpayers’ money on this project is squandering precious money and time.

How much better it would be for us to be investing in long-term region-wide solutions to flooding, solutions that are in our hands. The first step is to stop building in the floodplain. For Fargo developers to flood upstream property using taxpayers’ dollars is unconscionable. And to use eminent domain to acquire property for development is unconstitutional.

It’s time to stop living in a magical universe and stop throwing good money after bad in a quest for a holy grail of federal funding that is now hopelessly out of step with current political realities.