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Congress Passes Legislative on Red River Valley Easements, Flooding
Minnesota Ag Connection - 10/11/2018

Senator John Hoeven Wednesday joined the Senate in passing the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, also referred to as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The legislation includes a Hoeven-sponsored provision to resolve easements on land purchased with Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding in the Red River Valley and allow construction of comprehensive flood protection for the region. The senator's provision grants the authority needed to implement Route B, the changes recommended by the joint task force convened by Governors Doug Burgum and Mark Dayton. The legislation has passed both chambers of Congress and now goes to the president to be signed into law.

"The inclusion of our easement legislation in the final WRDA bill is an essential step for advancing comprehensive flood protection in the Red River Valley," Hoeven said. "Combined with the Army Corps funding we recently secured, this will help construction move forward, bringing us ever closer to providing communities in the region with security and certainty."

In addition, the bill includes a two-year extension through 2026 of a provision Hoeven secured in the 2014 WRDA bill prohibiting the Army Corps from charging storage fees for water drawn from the Missouri River. Hoeven initially introduced his legislation as a standalone bill, the States' Water Rights Act, prior to its inclusion in WRDA. With this extension, Hoeven's provision prevents the Corps from charging fees for using water from the Missouri River reservoirs through 2026. Hoeven said this provision remains critically important for communities in North Dakota, especially those along the Missouri River, which have a right to use the surplus water in the reservoir system.

The legislation passed today dovetails with measures Hoeven included in the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water funding bill, which was recently signed into law. As a member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to ensure the bill provided the funding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to deliver flood protection to North Dakota's communities, while also advancing the implementation of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which provides states and local governments with flexible funding sources when building water infrastructure. Specifically, the funding legislation:

- Includes a $150 million increase for Army Corps construction projects.

- Directs the Corps to complete a detailed plan for implementing WIFIA and provides up to $6 million to support WIFIA program implementation. This will provide low-cost loans and loan guarantees for water infrastructure and aligns with Hoeven's legislation to extend the WIFIA program.

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