FARGO - A federal judge ruled Thursday that the state of Minnesota can participate as a friend of the court in the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority’s lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers seeking to stop a proposed $1.8 billion Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sought to join the lawsuit in late July, asserting that it has a "significant interest" in the suit because the Diversion Authority "asserts that the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project is not subject to State regulation."

Newsletter signup for email alerts

U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim also ordered that a lawsuit filed in Wilkin County District Court in Minnesota by the Joint Powers Authority seeking to stop construction of a ring dike be essentially frozen until a final decision is rendered in the JPA's lawsuit making its way through federal court.

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