20 months ago, the Crookston Daily Times ran an article by author Natalie J. Ostgaard, which lends an insight into the Corps adherence to procedure to ensure that ZERO progress is made with interactions they have with the very taxpayers that pay the Corps salaries.
What is most curious is the concerns that were raised in the article over twenty months ago are nearly identical to concerns being raised today…, yet the USACE turns a deaf ear to the economic, social and moral issues their procedures are designed to ignore.
The Corps has a mission to keep public input out of “sync” with any current matter at hand to avoid resolving issues in real-time.
The disconnect with the public becomes more confounded when little to no transparency is offered during the development of any stage.
Here is Natalie’ J. Ostgaard’s article.
Keep in mind, the original article was published 20 months ago: July 22, 2010
The concerns for downstream communities is over inches…,
The concerns for upstream communities is in feet…,
The USACE and Fargo have blatantly mislead taxpayers with their mantra of ZERO impact.
Concerns over F-M diversion project brought to Polk County Board
– by author Natalie J. Ostgaard, Crookston Daily Times
Crookston — The proposed Fargo-Moorhead Red River diversion project has received a great deal of coverage over the last few months, most of it positive. And why not? This momentous $1.5 billion project has brought two cities and two counties from two bordering states together with the common goal of permanently protecting hundreds of homes and businesses from suffering the devastation from a swollen Red River like this and last spring. Deep in the mix of all this feel-good press, though, are a handful of rumblings from those protesting the project for various reasons.
One such protester brought his concerns to the Polk County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday. Norman County Commissioner and Hendrum farmer Steve Jacobson presented a resolution passed by the Norman County Board earlier this month that goes on record opposing the diversion proposal in its current form.
“We’re not denying that a solution is needed to better control the flooding in Fargo-Moorhead,” he said. “But we wouldn’t be representing the people of Norman County if we supported this as it stands.”
As it stands, he explained, the proposal, which diverts water around the cities to the west on the North Dakota side, would dump a significant amount of water into smaller communities along the Red River north of the F-M area. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, which was presented at a June 15 meeting in Hendrum for area landowners, shows that 10- and 50-year floods could raise the Red by as much as 17 inches in the Halstad area, where it meets the Wild Rice River, and 9 inches in the event of a 100-year flood, he said. This is in addition to the regular spring flooding that typically elevates the river a few inches but can go higher and cause problems in wetter years.
“Seventeen inches on top of 10 in the spring would be devastating to roads, towns and farmland in our area,” said Jacobson. “We just can’t have this.”
The numbers have changed several times, he added, as the 17 inches began at only 2 inches, so landowners are leery that this is even where it will end before an official figure is determined.
“We don’t feel the Corps is adequately studying the alternatives for the diversion and that it’s been rushed,” Jacobson said. “Plus, there’s nothing in the diversion that says it’s only going to operate in a catastrophic event. I, personally, would like to see a plan for a diversion channel that operates only in the event of a catastrophic flood, 100- or 500-year.”
Jacobson was one of about 60 protesters at the joint powers signing on July 15 that gives the cities of Fargo and Moorhead sponsorship of the project. Primarily members of the Downstream Impact Work Group, the protesters voiced concerns about the downstream impacts and being left out of the decision making process. The group that worked on the plan included representatives from Fargo, Moorhead, and Cass (N.D.) and Clay (Minn.) Counties.
According to an Associated Press story, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker told the protesters their fears were unfounded, while noting that the plan includes $50 million for water retention and other flood control methods downstream and representatives from those areas will be included in a technical advisory board.
This did little to squelch their concerns, though.
“They’ve got to show us something more,” said Jacobson.”
At an F-M Metro Flood Planning meeting on Friday, the Corps “indicated there would be adverse impacts north of Halstad, where the report ends, but that it will not know the extent of this until after the public comment period (on the draft feasibility study and environmental impact statement) ends on Aug. 9,” he said.
A request from the Work Group to extend this comment period, so downstream interests have a chance to digest the report along with recent revelations and offer comments on record, was denied, said Jacobson.
“The planning group and Corps want to keep the project moving as they’re on a strict timeline to get this going,” he said. “I’m assuming this is why the request was denied.”
Polk County areas along the Red, from Nielsville to East Grand Forks, will likely be impacted from the channel diversion in some way, given the magnitude of the project, he said, which, according to the current timeline, would begin in April 2012 and take about 10 years to complete. These are yet unknown, however. Polk County Coordinator Jack Schmalenberg added that the county has not heard anything about the project other than what’s been on the news.
“We just feel the rights of everyone downstream have been violated by not allowing an extension of the comment period before we have all the pertinent information,” said Jacobson.
Commissioner Craig Buness agreed.
“The fact that they say there will be impacts but then don’t allow discussion on it is just plain wrong,” he said.
Commissioners agreed to Jacobson’s request to officially request an extension of the comment period and also oppose the proposed diversion until more information on it is known. Jacobson said the way to achieve the goal of extending the comment period is to contact federal elected officials – representatives and senators – as well as the governor.
Polk County Highway Engineer noted that Rep. Collin Peterson and Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota would “probably have the most influence on policy change.”
“If enough people contact elected officials, they will listen,” Jacobson added. “There’s certainly no one in my community or group who wants Fargo-Moorhead to flood, but we need some protection for the people of Norman County, and other areas downstream.”
The feasibility report/EIS is available at www.internationalwaterinstitute.org/feasibility and by writing to Aaron M. Snyder, USACE, St. Paul District,180 5thSt. E. Suite 700, St. Paul, MN 55101-1678. Comments can be submitted on the website or addressed to Snyder.
Kudos to Natalie J. Ostgaard for genuine investigative journalism. Her words allowed Jacobson’s story to be shared so that others can assess the USACE’s role in allowing Fargo to force their lack of responsible development onto neighboring communities.