Majority Leader Al Carlson Agrees To Amendments To Controversial Flood Diversion Bill


The issue of flood diversion for the City of Fargo is hugely controversial. The citizens of Fargo want to divert flood waters to other people’s property so that they’re not stuck with the risk of a hugely disruptive and expensive flood fight every year. Citizens outside Fargo don’t want the flood waters sent to their property and communities.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson poured some fuel on those fires by making amendments to an appropriation bill that would have denied state funds for the diversion project. Carlson’s argument – and it was the proper one – is that the state shouldn’t be putting money into a project that will ultimately cost billions without the federal government having confirmed what they’ll pay.

Local officials in Fargo have accused Rep. Carlson of trying to kill off flood control, and after a meeting between the two sides Carlson is saying he’ll make some amendments to the bill.

Carlson told Scott Hennen Show guest host Pat Finken that he’d change his amendments so that they don’t restrict the use of local funds for the flood diversion project, and to still allow state matches for home buyouts, but he’s still not willing to allow state funds to be used.

“I just want people to know what this is going to cost them,” Rep. Carlson said. Noting that many citizens outside of Fargo are very much opposed to the diversion, he also said “the state has a responsibility to hear them out.”

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Thresherman

    Fargo needs to realize that it’s best interests and those of the remainder of the state are not necessarily synonymous.

    • jimmypop

      sounds good to me. oh, could you give us the cass money back that has been seized to run the rest of the state for the last 40 years? cass is meaningless, so you clearly wont miss it.

      • Thresherman

        All I said was that interests were not mutual, but since you bring it up, why don’t you tally up what Cass has contributed and deduct what Cass has received over the past 40 years and compare that to what the Diversion Authority is saying the project will cost. Oh, in doing so, please give due consideration to those in Cass county who will suffer from this boon to to those who chose to build in flood prone areas.

        • jimmypop

          uh, who is going to ‘suffer’ relative to those who benefit? im guessing you preached against grand forks and now preach against minot, bismark, devils lake……. right? hey, people lost land to build highways as well. im guessing your anti-road?

          and some VERY quick math for sake of argument; average state income tax rate is 4% (yes, it steps up so it is higher, but whatever). today we have roughly 105,000 jobs (one source said 120,000) in cass (we make up a total of 27% of sate jobs) now at an average of $43,000 per job (its actually more now). that feeds around $181M to the state each year. we get roughly half of that back (its actually less than half). lets say we had half THAT (because we had less people and less jobs) during the last 40 years. looks like around $1.6B cash back. and lets say my math is TOTALLY screwed up…. and cut THAT in half again. that leaves us with $800,000,000 (not including a dime of interest). between that, local money and fed money we can easily afford this project. and lets not forget…i have yet to introduce sales tax to this mix……. so, we have a deal?

  • Captjohn

    In my book “When Governance Worked” I discuss water issues in Chapter 8. I will remind everyone that when the Devils Lake community needed money to fight the never ending battle of Devils Lake Fargo legislators were supportive. When the Southwest water pipeline needed state money Fargo Legislators supported that project. When Grand Forks needed funds to control and rebuild after their disastrous flood Fargo legislators voted for those projects. The same is true of Minot. I find it very discomforting that when the biggest city in the state, which contributes 100’s of millions of dollars to the state general fund needs support there are those that want to turn their backs. Is it a overdose of parochialism or jealousy. In all of the floods mentioned the displacement of water was an issue that had to be resolved and was.

    • jimmypop

      listen, when you build next to a river or water, its your own fault!!!! well, i mean, not like wahpeton, grand forks, devils lake, minot, bismarck, valley city and towns that have water issues. oh, and the farms that have water issues as well. then its ok to pass out cash without any thought. just not when cass county….er, fargo…. does. FARGO IS EVIL! get it? EVIL!!!

    • camsaure

      So you are saying that it just fine to take mine and my neighbors tax dollars to force water upon us whom did not build next to the river. I probably do not have a problem with the state helping fargo build dikes, but do not agree one bit with this diversion to just force the problem down the line and then making those who are down the line help pay for it.

      • guest

        Cam, you did build next to a river. No, not 10 feet from it, but you did build next to one. In fact, I’d be willing to be you’re closer to the river than much of what could flood in the FM area. Besides, if you didnt, it would not be so logical to use as flood detention.

        • camsaure

          No, I did not I am six and a half miles from it. Yeah, if Fargo gets it’s way with the diversion it will most likely reach all the way to me, even though I have never had trouble in the past. Then just think how bad it will be North of Grand Forks where the valley really flattens out.
          Whiskeys for drinkin and water’s for fightin.

  • Rick Olson

    It seems to me that Al Carlson is playing politics as usual. It seems to me that he’s already posturing himself for a possible run for higher office. Perhaps for governor in 2016, when Jack Dalrymple will be up for re-election. I personally don’t think Dalrymple will run for another term and instead will retire. Thus, if Dalrymple doesn’t run, the GOP nomination will be up for grabs. Accordingly, Carlson wants to make himself both known and popular to outstate North Dakota, and also in so doing, he’s kissing up to those who are against the Fargo flood diversion project. Right now, outside of his legislative district in Fargo, there probably aren’t all that many people who know Al Carlson even exists.

  • cherylrabun

    Politics will always remain unpredictable and it is really very hard to understand.

  • Lynn Bergman

    Just give Fargo all the money they need and let them use it any way they wish.
    THAT way forward is what the vast majority of North Dakota politicians and so-called “public servants” were demanding when confronted with actual tax reduction such as Measure 2… THAT is “local control”. These “legislative games” are just “foreplay” prior to giving Fargo everything it wants, at the expense of the taxpayer. They can’t reduce taxes significantly because they have too many special interests yet to serve. Sad, indeed.

  • toppr8

    You built next to the water, so don’t pass the water onto someone else who did not! Dikes and containments yes, diversion so someone else has the problem or has to give up land, A RESOUNDING NO!!!!!! This is so hypocritical I cannot believe those who are fighting it can do so with a conscience!