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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Crack in the FM Diversion: Will it Break Under Pressure

Take any single aspect of the Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion, scrutinize the data and the findings don’t pan out.

When one considers the lack of a real 500 year flood threat versus the impacts and benefit to cost ratios the entire document that the proposed Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion is being based upon, the proposed plan begins to leak like a poorly built dike.

The only real thing holding the USACE FEIS document together is the myopic hope for funding backed by intentionally crafted fears of a mythical 500 year flood that has ONLY occurred in computer models based on the conditional parameters the designer fed it.

Despite a genuine effort to clarify 500 year flood elevation discrepancies of 905.5′ and 908.5′ in the FEIS, Craig O. Evans, P.E. Chief, Plan Formulation Section replied,

USACE CORPS RESPONSE:  See Section of the FEIS (pages 78-80) for discussion about the WAPA substation. The elevation cited in the FEIS for a 500-year flood near the WAPA substation was 905.5 (NAVD 88)

Unfortunately, some of the specific information you are requesting exists only in computer models and was not tabulated for presentation in the FEIS. We are unable to devote staff time and other resources to publishing that information in response to individual requests.

Ironic that the specific department that is charged with Plan Formulation has withheld information from the FEIS rendering it incomplete and doesn’t have time or resources to validate the specific elevation the entire project is being based upon?

It appears that the more verbose and fragmented a USACE document becomes, the more above reproach the drafter assumes they’ve climbed.

The funny thing about statistics and probabilities is that they can be manipulated and presented as facts under the guise of credibility.

For instance: The basis for the Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion is a .2% (500 year) flood event. Which means that a 500 year flood has a 99.98% chance of NOT occurring in any given calendar year. However, the National Committee on Levee Safety indicates there is approximately a 6% chance of 500 year flood protection failing under use.

So in essence, there is a greater chance that 500 year flood protection will fail as opposed to the 500 year flood event ever occurring.

Considering the magnitude of the Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion and how it has procedurally progressed without adequate consideration to fundamental aspects of the design, location and impact…, there was bound to be resistance.

For any elected official to exploit an opportunity from the bully pulpit to exact an agenda is cause for concern.

Was there a moment at the podium where Walaker’s inner voice attempted to halt the words as they tersely purged from his lips?

“We want to do everything that we know possible to get us some permanent flood protection, and we need your support,” Walaker said. “If it fails, I don’t think anyone wants to go on the front page of The Forum as I point fingers at the people that basically stopped this project. That’s a warning, as far as I’m concerned.” – Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker

Kudos are in order to KVRR TV and KFGO radio for reporting on the incident.

It’s ironic that it took a letter to the editor admonishing the Fargo Mayor for his unprofessional behavior to prompt the Fargo Forum to offer coverage on the matter.

Here are excerpts from Kristin Daum’s article with commentary;


Walaker’s Warning Reignites Divide Between Diversion Supporters, Opponents

by: Kristen Daum

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker admits there are a few words in his “State of the Cities” address that he probably shouldn’t have said.

Walaker told The Forum last week he realizes in hindsight his words touched a nerve. He said they were spoken out of frustration.

“Maybe it was a little harsh,” he said. “Do I wish I hadn’t said it? Ah, probably.”

COMMENTARY: Is this Mayor Dennis Walaker’s version of a half-hearted apology…?  Is this really the best apology the mayor of North Dakota’s largest city can muster for an insensitive threat steeped in arrogance?

…and cue the proverbial “yeah but!”

Walaker said the personal impact of the project is not lost on him or other metro leaders, but there’s also a level of frustration about the manner in which opponents seek to make their voices heard.

COMMENTARY: Sorry Mayor Walaker, that dog won’t hunt.   Frustration over the inability to control the voice of opponents…? When Fargo, Cass County and the USACE delayed announcement of upstream impacts and held a closed door meeting Nov 11, 2010 excluding media…, your rights to cry foul were revoked.  Opponents and Supporters are afforded the same right to voice their positions, opinions and concerns.

Several rural residents said they took Walaker’s comments as a direct threat and a show of intimidation, spurring more animosity and distrust against metro leaders promoting the project.

COMMENTARY: The animosity and distrust isn’t unique to rural residents.  When Mayor Walaker showed his true colors his comments became a spoken piece history.   KVRR reporter, Kim Kressin, documented the moment as:  “Mayor Walaker left people silent after saying these words in regards to the F–M diversion plan.”

 Because of that, the project has drawn passionate opposition from affected residents, who continue urging Fargo-Moorhead leaders to seek a different solution.

“We have been striving hard to work with the mayor and his team to find common ground and a solution that provides permanent flood protection for Fargo that does not also require the destruction of our communities,” said Nathan Berseth, spokesman for the MnDak Upstream Coalition, one of several rural groups organized in opposition to the diversion plan.

“We have made efforts to remain professional and reasonable,” Berseth said, “so when the mayor made his bullying threats, it saddened and angered us.”

COMMENTARY: Can common ground exist when conditional terms of 500 year flood protection are set as the only acceptable solution?

 “I’ve asked for it several times: If they’re going to be against the project, that’s their right, but the other problem is: Then, come up with a better solution,” Walaker said.

COMMENTARY: Who’s kidding who? Better solutions have been offered.  However, anything less than 500 year flood protection is summarily dismissed.  Categorically rejecting the Northern Alignment for Fargo’s future economic development does not denote better solutions have been genuinely considered. The Minnesota Diversion is the Federally Comparable Plan. However, Fargo leaders shoved their fingers in their ears all the way to the knuckles and demanded unrealistic 500 year flood protection.

NDCC 61-16.2-09. Enforcement and penalties.
1. It is unlawful for any person to establish any use which is not in accordance with this chapter within any floodplain without prior written approval of the affected community. Every use placed in the floodplain in violation of this chapter or a floodplain management ordinance adopted under or in compliance with the provisions of this chapter, or adopted under the national flood insurance program [42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.], is a public nuisance and the construction or installation thereof may be enjoined by an action brought by the state engineer or the appropriate community. The state engineer or community may obtain a court order directing the removal or elimination of such public nuisance, or authorizing the state engineer or community to remove the public nuisance, or cause to be removed, at the expense of the owner. A person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.



COMMENTARY: Perhaps Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker forgets his place. It is Fargo’s job to ask permission and present offers to land owners outside Fargo, not dictate what will be imposed upon property owners, farmers, surrounding communities and school districts.

“There’s certain factions out there that are just totally against the project…”

COMMENTARY: “Certain Factions”…?  Could Mayor Walaker be referring to taxpaying Americans that have the right to dissent and redress officials that compel an agenda under Home Rule of Charter and deny voters the chance to cast their deciding ballots?  That’s right Mr Walaker, profile those “certain factions” that became obligated to fund a school they didn’t vote for that was built in a known flood plain below the 100 year flood level to drive dissolute growth into a natural flood plain in a ploy to justify a diversion.

“…my loyalty is to the 200,000 people in this community that depend upon this city for their livelihood.”

COMMENTARY: Self appointed “metro-mayor”…, how ingratiating.   When did Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth, Harwood, Horace and Frontier lose their elected mayors that speak for their respective communities?   I propose this challenge Mayor Walaker – ASSESS  and PRESENT the entire project cost to voters, including negotiated buyouts,  in both states.  It’s only fair to allow North Dakotan’s and Minnesotan’s their right to determine how to spend their tax dollars via an informed vote.  Allow voters to decide whether the project is fiscally responsible and whether or not Fargo should receive state and federal funding for the proposed diversion.

Diversion Authority officials are studying ways to reduce impacts from the project, but they say retention alone will not adequately protect the Fargo-Moorhead area like a diversion could.

COMMENTARY: Completely false!  Whether you retain water upstream or at the dam and diversion, retention is occurring.  The current design is retention of water in a staging area where it poses the greatest threat to the metro area and adverse impacts to surrounding communities.   Initiate 20% reduction on all tributaries, remove the staging and storage and divert the water accordingly on the North Dakota and Minnesota sides and many issues facing the metro area would be resolved.   Ponder this…,  if 61,700 cfs were to flow via Fargo in a 500 year flood event and Fargo were removed from the equation, 61,700 cfs would be considered a ZERO impact downstream because it would be a naturally occurring event.

“Even with 400,000 acre-feet of retention, we get only 1 ½ feet of relief (in Fargo),” Walaker said. “That’s not enough.”

COMMENTARY: Untrue, 1 ½ feet of relief in Fargo is substantial, especially considering it’s off the flood event that has a 99.98% chance of not occurring in any given year.

After three years of study, engineers are in the early stages of designing the 35-mile-long, half-mile-wide channel.

Walaker said residents need to understand the different phases of the project and realize nothing is set in stone.

COMMENTARY: If Fargo was/is genuinely interested in finding a solution for the region, they would be actively engaged with the entire basin and the communities that will be impacted trying to discover a solution that will be amicable for all involved, not just Fargo.  To date, Fargo has not approached the affected areas to initiate talks that could lead to a solution. Fargo’s insatiable appetite for 500 year flood protection to allow future growth is the only terms Fargo is dictating.

Had Fargo been the least bit interested in fostering an environment of integrity and trust, affected areas, both downstream and upstream, would have been invited to the decision table with a vote and say in the planning process. At the very least, the affected areas should have been invited to the Civil Works Review Board hearing on September 23rd, 2011.

However this excerpt from the Fargo Forum Editorial Board sums up the behavior and political agenda of the FM Diversion machine:

“Opponents of the diversion groused that they were not allowed a place at the table at the Washington meeting. They had no place there. Why would diversion supporters who are trying to get the project funded invite project foes whose goal is to scuttle the project? They were not invited for good cause.” – Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board

COMMENTARY: It’s not just about having a place at the table in Washington.  It’s about being systematically locked out of  all aspects and voting from the beginning.  Especially involving matters of such great importance, wherein the end result is taking a persons home by force against their will.

Excerpted from “Living With Water” series: “Our company thus has an unusual ability and a responsibility to bring major issues before the public, and we take the challenge very seriously. I can assure you that our research and reporting is accurate and meets the high standard the company enjoys.” – William C. Marcil, chairman, Forum Communications Co.

COMMENTARY: Apparently, denying Americans their right to property ownership and violating Executive Order 11988 is not considered a major issue in the Forums eyes.   Where is the investigative journalism into the unjust taking of land, denying farmers their lively-hoods and the clear violation of the natural flood plain south of Fargo for future development?

“The design will pinpoint what can be done and what can’t be done,” Walaker said. “Part of the design is an opportunity to find a better solution. … We will put all the pressure we can on the people doing the design to come up with a solution where we don’t have to vacate Bakke, Oxbow and Hickson.”

“I can’t believe there isn’t an opportunity to save those communities,” through ring dikes or other means, he added.

COMMENTARY: “We will put all the pressure we can on the people doing the design…,”  – Well at least Mayor Walaker has admitted a process of manipulation via pressure exists.  It indirectly explains how much of the Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion has taken shape.

There is a simple way to save the communities.

• Abandon the foolish notion of 500 year flood protection,

• Develop the Northern Alignment as a genuine DIVERSION not a DAM,

• Increase flows via Fargo and the Diversion,

• Adopt a 20% basin wide reduction on all tributaries,

• Establish “annual” water easement payments for farmers impacted by the Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion,

“No matter what we come up with, it’s not good enough,” Walaker said, reaffirming his belief that the diversion is the best option to provide permanent flood protection in Fargo-Moorhead.

COMMENTARY: Mr Walaker, you deserve no sympathy.   Consider your bluff called!  You are also challenged to NAME the person or group that you’ve presented your alleged plan(s) to so that intelligent readers may consider your information in detail.    Your reasoning is subjective and your current 500 year plan is neither necessary or moral. Common sense suggests that you’ve not come up with a good enough plan, so go back to the drawing board and design a ZERO impact diversion and then resign yourself to it’s geographic limitations.

In addition, a 500 year flood wouldn’t be exclusive to Fargo Moorhead.  If conditions were sufficient to cause a 500 year event, the entire region would be invariably  impacted.   The modeling for the current LPP is dangerously deficient due to lack of scope outside the project area reflecting region wide conditions supporting a 500 year baseline flood event.

“We all have to be responsible for what we say,” he added, “and just because you’re against it and you inform the different committees that you’re going to try to stop it, that doesn’t resolve the need of our communities.”

Berseth said Walaker’s warning strengthened the Upstream Coalition’s support base and “our resolve to fight.”

“We are not opposed to this project for the sake of being obstructionists,” Berseth said. “All of us have a lot at stake due to the consequences of this (project).”

COMMENTARY: Every living soul within the Red River Valley is an equal stakeholder in flood decisions and they deserve a vote at the table.   There is no “greater good!”  That’s simply a mantra recited by an oligarchy predisposed to class warfare in pursuit of their own interests and financial gain.

Mayor Walaker, your FM Diversion is already leaking…, and the first shovel of dirt hasn’t even been turned.

How long can you keep plugging the holes?  Sooner or later you’re going to run out of fingers.

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