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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Cass County Commissioner Ken Pawluk Takes Swing At Retired Judge Thomas Davies Over Fargo Dam and Diversion

Ken Pawluck, District 3, Cass County Commissioner

Rotating the mouthpiece of the week has become fairly routine when the Fargo Diversion Authority gets caught in the cross hairs of truth.

In a mere 31 days, five years will have passed since the peak flood crest of 2009. In five years, Fargo has dragged it’s feet, begged for hundreds of millions from the state of North Dakota and failed to complete internal flood protection. Despite millions of Cass county sales tax dollars being funneled towards various aspects of the proposed dam and diversion project, the $2 billion plus project is no closer to completion than when it started.

Meanwhile, Cass county and the Fargo Diversion Authority gamble on a tenuous relationship with mother-nature and the river systems the alleged protection is intended to abate.

As the saying goes: “With Friends Like These Who Needs Enemies”

Very appropriate words to consider when reading Cass county commissioner Ken Pawluk stigmatizing rant towards retired Honorable Judge Thomas Davies over Davies recent letter to the editor regarding the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion.

Letter: Davies’ claims about project are unfounded
By: Ken Pawluk, Fargo, INFORUM
Published February 22, 2014

A Feb. 15 column in The Forum by my friend the Honorable Judge Thomas Davies regarding the FM Area Flood Diversion Project made some unfounded claims that need clearing up.

Davies stated that he had been ill and admittedly did not develop the information he used himself. While he has earned the benefit of the doubt on intentions, I feel there are a number of developments that have taken place over the past five years he might not be familiar with in detail.


Rather shameful of Ken Pawluk to preface his response letter with an attempt to discredit Judge Davies opinion as being health related.

View: Honorable Judge Thomas Davies Letter

Ironic that the Fargo Diversion Authority and Cass County have not developed the information they are using either…, yet blindly forge ahead with the local sponsors land grab of the last natural flood plain south of Fargo.

It is also interesting to note that the U.S. Corps of Engineers refers to the basis of their study as hydrologic assumptions…, not hydrologic facts as the foundation for the entire Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Ken Pawluk: One glaring omission was his lack of mention of Cass County. As is often opined by opponents of the Diversion Project, their focus is on Fargo and the Red River. What I would like to make Davies and others aware of is that over my nine years as a county commissioner, I have seen major spring flooding eight times. More to my point, this flooding has not come solely from the Red River. The Sheyenne River, the Maple River, the Rush River and the Lower Rush River all contribute to major flooding across the county; all will have reduced flood risk with the diversion in place.


Isn’t it ironic that the Sheyenne, Maple and Upper and Lower Rush rivers do not directly affect flooding of Fargo-Moorhead yet the Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management projects primary purpose is to benefit Fargo growth and provides ancillary benefits to properties along the dry side of the proposed diversion channel.

I’m sure that Ken Pawluk is being genuine in his statement about flooding along the Sheyenne, Maple and Rush rivers, since several of those rivers pose potential flood impacts to land owned by Pawluk as cited in the Cass county plat map book.

Despite Pawluk’s disingenuous attempt to mis-direct readers regarding flooding across the county, the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management project does not protect areas outside the proposed dam and diversion channel.

Quite the contrary! The proposed project contains a feature that ensures if or when the staging reservoir reaches 922.2 feet, any additional water would flow unchecked and flood outlying areas that Pawluk is trying to use as a political pawn.

Ken Pawluk: I often hear that with the diversion, Fargo is forcing its will on the surrounding area. But make no mistake: While Fargo is part of the project, this is Cass County’s flood protection plan. In fact, the diversion would offer flood protection to 92 percent of the people within Cass County. In addition, with this plan in place, it will free up county resources to further aid other communities and residents who are not in the area of protection.


Sorry Ken, your rhetoric doesn’t pass the Cass County Code of Ethics for County Officials. It simply does not pass public scrutiny, instill confidence or fulfill impartial benefit of public interest.

Just in case you missed this in the Scoping Document:

A Reconnaissance Report for the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area was approved by the Corps Mississippi Valley Division on April 08, 2008. Based on the recommendations contained in the Reconnaissance Report, the City of Fargo, the City of Moorhead, and the Federal Government entered into a Feasibility Cost Share Agreement on September 22, 2008.


Odd…, no mention of Cass county?

Oh, that’s right, Cass county withheld information from voters about upstream impacts until after the November 2010 tax vote, which didn’t go into effect until April 1, 2011.

Fargo is not just “part of the project”, they are the major local sponsor from the beginning. Fargo also has taxing authority and an additional sales tax to pay for internal protections, which have been dismally pursued, unlike neighboring Moorhead, MN which should see completion of their permanent flood protection later in 2014.

However, there is little question that Fargo and Cass county have colluded on the proposed project.

So if this is truly a Cass county project, why aren’t there representatives from all impacted areas of Cass county serving as voting members on the Fargo Diversion Authority…, and not just the hand-picked elite from Fargo or Cass county?

Ken Pawluk: As a member of the Diversion Authority, I have seen firsthand the tremendous efforts that have gone into each of the decisions regarding the diversion. If there is a better flood protection plan, I have not seen it. Millions have been spent by state and local governments to model and track every option.


Millions have been spent in pursuit of a land grab disguised as a flood project. As for the tremendous efforts that have gone into the decisions regarding the diversion…, who’s kidding who? In fact, it’s rather unsettling that the Fargo Diversion Authority reaches unanimous policy by group-think nearly 100 percent of the time.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documentation cites that the local sponsor(s) rejected any combination of flood protection in pursuit of the proposed plan.

Refusing to accept a better plan does not mean one does not exist. Simply preserving the present natural flood plain and adding one foot of staging/storage capacity would save hundreds of millions of dollars and could be completed years earlier.

But then again, how can anyone rely on Cass County of Fargo city officials to deny encroachment into the last natural flood plain that has directly increased the flood threat to the metro area?

Where is the accountability for decades of irresponsible flood plain development and water displacement caused by that encroachment?

Ken Pawluk: What we have in front of us now is the best plan. It protects the largest number of people while containing and minimizing negative impacts. Unfortunately, every major water project has impacts, but I and others have been, and will continue to be vigilant to minimize those impacts.


Absolutely incorrect.

• The present plan is the worst plan.
• It protects a city that has avoided completion of internal flood protection.
• It displaces water impacts onto entities that do not have impartial representation.
• It maximizes impacts onto areas outside metro legal boundaries.

Ken…, as for taking you at your word about minimizing impacts…

Cass county wouldn’t even acknowledge or represent the resounding NO that came from Bakke, Hickson and Oxbow property owners against the proposed OHB ring-dike-levee.

In fact, Diversion Chair and Cass county commission Darrell Vanyo pompously claimed, in August 2013, that after checking with Cass county states attorney’s that it’s the county’s right to make a decision contrary to what property owners overwhelmingly conveyed three times!

Listen to Darrell Vanyo clip:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Alternate Darrell Vanyo Download MP3 (838 kb)

It appears that Cass county commissioners are not impartial or objective in matters that are pro-Fargo pro-diversion.

Sadly, these public servants feel they have greater rights to private property than those constituents they were elected to serve.

Ken Pawluk: Cass County needs flood protection and the diversion is our plan.


Then have the guts to put the present plan on a ballot and see what the voters really say.

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One Response to “ Cass County Commissioner Ken Pawluk Takes Swing At Retired Judge Thomas Davies Over Fargo Dam and Diversion ”

  1. Pawluk states that over 90% of Cass Countys population benefits. This is a misleading statistic designed to show that Cass is doing the right thing.

    According to Census data Cass County is 157,000. Subtract Fargo -110,000 Yields 47,000. Then subtract the other City inside, West Fargo. 47-28 = 19,000 people that live outside the diversion.

    This yields a 19,000/157000 = 12 percent of the population of Cass County live outside the diversion. So based on this number the 90 percent of the residents that live in Cass County (omission and by the math inside the diversion) benefit from it.

    Simplified “92% of the benefactors of the diversion live inside the metro areas”. In other words the County referred to is a synonym for the Metro, and completely ignores the rural real folks represented only by the County.

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