Searching for Flood Protection Funding

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Plans are in place – now it’s time to find the money to get the work going.

That’s what the Souris River Joint Board is doing as it tries to deliver on promises to begin construction on flood protection in 2017.

Jim Olson reports on the group’s requests for funding from counties and the state.

(Jim Olson, KX News) It was county commission day for Ryan Ackerman.

(Ryan Ackerman, Souris River Joint Board) “Our budget we anticipate being 66.5 million dollars.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) The administrator of the Souris River Joint Board was in front of commissions in Ward, Renville, Bottineau, and McHenry Counties today, asking for continued support from local governments for the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Control Project.

(Ryan Ackerman, Souris River Joint Board) “We sincerely appreciate the support of Ward County and hope we’re providing value in terms of what we’re doing to accomplish reduced flood risk.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) The SRJB is trying to shore up funding for next year – 66 million dollars – to take on the first three major projects of the flood control plan – stretching from the 83 bypass to the water treatment plant and continuing downstream to the railroad bridge.

(Ryan Ackerman, Souris River Joint Board) “What the Joint Board has been focusing on is those highly urbanized where we’ve got denser populations. Basically we’re doing that because we don’t have unlimited funds.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) It’s the lack of funding that throws a wrench into getting the project going next year. Ackerman says a request to the legislature is ready to go that would ask for 119 million dollars for the biennium that begins in July.

(Ryan Ackerman, Souris River Joint Board) “The more resources that are made available from the various funding sources the quicker we can accomplish our goal. But we also understand the budget limitations that are happening across the state.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) And if those limitations hit flood control funding, it may be impossible to construct all three of the phases next year.

(Ryan Ackerman, Souris River Joint Board) “That’s a possibility and it’s a contingency we are prepared for. We’ve got several contingency plans in place depending on the actual level of funding we do receive.”(Jim

Olson, KX News) Still, Ackerman says the plan is to press ahead.

(Ryan Ackerman, Souris River Joint Board) “We’ve maintained a commitment to building the first three phases beginning next year. I believe the legislature is fully informed of that and the governor’s aware of that as well. So we’re hoping we can get their support in the next session that we can get these first three phases done.”

Jim Olson, KX News.

What about federal funding for the flood control project?

Ackerman says any decision about if, and how much federal money might be available is still years away.

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