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Flooding solutions for the whole Red River Valley

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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Last week I chaired a three-hour hearing on Red River Valley flooding issues that included discussion on problems residents downstream of Fargo-Moorhead could face if a proposed Red River diversion project is built. I welcomed the opportunity to hear from stakeholders working together on a flood-protection plan for the Red River Valley area.

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Representatives from the Red River Watershed Management Board and the Red River Basin Commission spoke about the status of Red River projects, the cost and benefit of building flood control storage to reduce flooding, and the positive impacts for the area if increased flow reduction efforts are implemented. Hendrum Mayor Curt Johannsen and Diane Ista from the Wild Rice Watershed District, made compelling arguments that long term flood solutions for the Red River Valley area must include both protection and prevention measures.

This session I offered an amendment to the bonding bill that would require a federal commitment to mitigate the downstream impact of the Fargo/Moorhead Metropolitan diversion project before state funding would be provided. The amendment passed and the bonding bill passed (92 to 37). I offered this amendment because I believe we need to have a comprehensive solution to the flood problems. During the flood last spring, people all up and down valley fought for each other -- their farms, their homes, their businesses and their cities. We need to continue to work together for the whole valley.

This week the House also passed a bill that I carried which provides flood protection for the small cities of Perley, Hendrum, Shelly, Nielsville, and Felton. My bill also includes $23.5 million for Red River Basin impoundment projects in order to prevent worse flooding in the valley.

We need to go beyond simply protecting farm sites and cities from major floods. We need to also invest in flood prevention through water retention. This will actually save us money in the long run. For every $1 invested in flood prevention it is estimated that we save about $4 in flood response and cleanup. We can't afford to wait any longer.

Please feel free to contact me by phone (651) 296-9918, mail: 575 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 or e-mail: rep.kent.eken@house.mn.

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