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Curt Bjertness Comments to the USACE re: Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion

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Curt Bjertness Comments USACE FEIS Fargo Moorhead Dam and Diversion

November 4, 2011

US Army Corps of Engineers
7701 Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA 22315-3860

RE: Fargo Diversion Project

The LPP that the USACE has proposed for the diversion and water staging area for the protection of Fargo should be reconsidered. The negative impacts that it will have on the area surrounding the diversion is immense and there should be other methods studied and pursued. These same impacts will be affecting Fargo as well as the surrounding communities as all of these communities support Fargo economically. Basin wide retention should be considered for the benefit of the entire valley not just Fargo. The size, cost, and scope of the LPP is huge and the time and effort should be put in to do it properly. Since this proposal is not only for flood protection for the current area of Fargo but also includes their growth area to the south, what is going to happen when they fully develop the protected area? If Fargo is going to continue to be the economic engine they claim, at some point in time the area will be all developed. This project will then stall that economic engine as it will have destroyed any possibility of development for economic growth outside of the diversion.

The current alignment of the proposed diversion and water staging is such that it protects a growth area of Fargo that is currently a natural waterway for overland flooding during most flood events. They continue to develop areas that are susceptible to flooding and this plan protects those areas. The proposal to protect that area for development and push that water onto areas that historically have not had flooding is not only arrogant and unethical but should be illegal.

The people, communities, and businesses that will be negatively impacted have had no voice in this project. They are the ones that are being told, not asked, that what they have will be sacrificed. This is called the Locally Preferred Plan but it is only the preferred plan of the local sponsor and they only seem to care about getting a project quickly. The benefits of the proposed plan are too localized and I question that it is a good long term plan, even for the Local Sponsor.

The Locally Preferred Plan will negatively impact at least 54,000 acres of prime agricultural land that has been identified so far, I think it will impact more than that once more studies are done. At a time when it is getting more difficult to produce enough food in the world I don’t think we should be negatively impacting agricultural production. This plan will affect production any year that water is held in the staging areas. Crop yield is affected each day that planting is delayed. In the presentation given by USACE at Kindred in May, 2011 concerning this proposal, they stated that the dams would have been activated and water held back in the summers of 2005, 2007, and 2009. This would have devastated any crop flooded during the summer and I question why they would have been activated as I do not recall Fargo flooding during those periods of time. The economic loss that this plan will create for the agricultural community will affect everyone. The loss of yield or the loss of the crop will especially be a hardship on the producer as this is not an insurable loss since it is the result of a man made structure. This is an unfair and unjust burden to place on the agricultural community.

The sacrifices that the upstream communities are being told to endure are immense. People will be giving up their homes, ways of life, and livelihoods. The compensation will not be adequate for these sacrifices. I manage a local farmer co-operative that will have at least 40 percent of our trade area adversely affected not to mention that two of our facilities that will need to be protected or moved. This decision by the local Sponsor and USACE will be devastating not only for this company but the entire area.

The Kindred School District of Kindred, North Dakota will lose 25 percent of its tax valuation as well as 20 percent of its student base. These are losses that will need to be passed on to the remaining residents of the school district. The loss of state funding because of the loss of
student base will negatively impact what we can offer the balance of our students. A major contention that I have is how the alignment of the diversion follows the border of the Kindred and Fargo school districts. The area that will be protected by the diversion and is Fargo’s
growth area normally has overland flooding. The water staging area is in the Kindred District which normally has not had flood issues.

I believe Fargo can create protection within the city, discontinue developing flood prone areas and work with surrounding areas to continue economic growth. I firmly believe that with basin wide retention and the correct measures taken within the city of Fargo there isn’t a need for the diversion let alone a water staging area. This would be beneficial for the whole area.

I hope and pray that a common sense approach is used to find a solution to the flooding in the valley and it can benefit more than one area.

Curt Bjertness
20 Elm St
Hickson, ND 58047

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