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Judge’s order says suit opposing flood diversion must be settled in federal court

FARGO — A judge has ordered that a lawsuit filed in Wilkin County District Court in Minnesota opposing the proposed $1.8 billion Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project be essentially frozen until a final decision is rendered in a similar suit making its way through federal court.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim issued the order Thursday. It bars the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority and others from proceeding with the state action against the Diversion Authority until the federal action is decided and all federal appeals have been exhausted.

The judge concluded the two actions involve essentially the same subject matter and that it was best to keep all claims in federal court.

Diversion Authority Board Chairman Darrell Vanyo welcomed the ruling, stating in a news release that it affirmed the interstate nature of the project.

Vanyo also said the Diversion Authority is committed to working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to ensure that appropriate state environmental review of the project can be completed efficiently.

The DNR has asked that it be allowed to join the federal lawsuit opposing the diversion, asserting it has an interest in the case because the Diversion Authority asserts the proposed project is not subject to state regulation.

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