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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Dark Art of Conjuring, Aquaphobia and Other Useless Lies

Fear Mongering

It is getting to the point of being laughable…, that every time precipitation falls in any form, the Forum editorial staff begins beating their drums and reciting their incantations of flood fear…, flood woe…, y’know – the usual big show.

It is almost, as if, the Forum editorial staff is attempting to conjure up every morsel of anxiety possible to instill their version of aquaphobia upon others – in an irrational attempt to distract the general populace of Fargo and its environs from remedies within their grasp and the direct role that natural flood development plays in urban flooding.

Currently, there is no federally authorized project and no federal funding.

The United States is over $17.5 trillion in debt.

According to the September 19th, 2013 CRS report R42841, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a backlog of more than $10 billion of authorized flood and storm damage reduction projects across the country, which compete for the roughly $1 billion typically provided for flood damage reduction activities in the annual budget process. That does not include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates of more than $25 billion that will be required to address dam deficiencies for Corps-owned dams.

The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that the total cost to rehabilitate the nation’s non-federal and federal dams is over $57 billion.

Fargo and Diversion Authority leaders left Washington frustrated after being told by Heitkamp, Hoeven and Cramer that there would be “NO FEDERAL FUNDING” and that they needed to work things out with upstream interests.

Yet, the Fargo Diversion Authority persists moving forward with a wholly unnecessary OHB ring levee project, that more than 116 area residents DO NOT WANT, instead of using that $65-$70 million dollars on internal flood protections – like the 2nd street project.

So the Red River Valley gets some rain, the river gage rises and the Fargo Forum editorial staff ignores the aforementioned and recites another version of their editorial mantra.

Here is the editorial with commentary:

Forum editorial: Red flood? No, yes, maybe…
April 30, 2014
by: Forum Editorial Staff

Three weeks ago, the prospect of a spring flood on the Red River was so remote that the National Weather Service suspended routine flood forecasts. There was nothing to report. The Red was very low, and most of its tributaries were running far below flood stages.

 

Ironic how few headlines and daily reminders there “were not” that sandbag central was not operating in relation to the non-event of 2014. No police escorts parading banners signaling that all is well and good and safe from flooding.

Forum Editorial Staff:
What a difference a few days can make. And that is the very factor that underscores the need to continue full focus on permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead and its immediate environs: the proposed F-M diversion project.

 

Precisely the reason to complete internal flood protections to safeguard the city that exists…, and not one that developers are hinging their agenda on in the last natural flood plain south of Fargo.

Forum Editorial Staff:
The late winter/early spring outlook for the Red was for no flooding, except in historically vulnerable areas. The river at Fargo was hardly near flood stage of 18 feet. Then the rains came.

 

Mastering the obvious! Yet, completely oblivious when it comes to focusing on completing flood protection within Fargo’s grasp.

Forum Editorial Staff:
By the middle of this week, the Red had topped 22 feet and was rising toward a predicted crest of 28 feet, just 2 feet short of major flood stage. That’s about a 10-foot rise in a few days. That’s a lot of water.

 

The bottom of the river channel always rises faster than the top. With more square miles of FM development upstream of the Red River gage, it is only natural that the water in the channel will rise more quickly.

Minor, Moderate and Major flood stages are arbitrarily set by the city. Despite heavy development in the natural flood plains south of I-94, the outdated flood stage of 18 feet has remained unchanged since the 1970’s. The headlines are quick to point out exceedance of the 18 foot flood stage, hysteria over a clay dike on 2nd street, but rarely mention the additional 20 feet of rise needed to warrant sandbagging in Fargo.

Forum Editorial Staff:
The behavior of the watershed and the river is always instructive and always fascinating. While the rainfall was, as WDAY meteorologist John Wheeler put it, “impressive,” it was not a record-setter. Rain fell steadily over a landscape that was, from a hydrological perspective, still locked in winter frost. Instead of percolating into thawed spring soils, the heavy rainfall ran off into drains, ditches, coulees and eventually into the basin’s major rivers.

 

Once again, mastering the obvious of how the entire basin conveys water toward the river.

However, the Forum editorial staff conveniently ignores that encroachment into the natural flood plain contributes significantly to rising crests due to the reduction of flood plain capacity to buffer water for the metro area. Over 25 inches since 1969 and over 7 inches since 1997.

Forum Editorial Staff:
The result will be moderate to major flooding along the Red and other rivers. In Fargo, a few low-lying streets and low bridges might be closed. In the countryside, farmlands that should be drying out by now are saturated. Every low spot is filled, and most coulees and drains, including the Sheyenne Diversion, are flowing bank full.

 

Boo-Hoo! Low lying streets and bridges are subject to flooding due to their location, elevation and poor design.

As for farmland being saturated, a natural occurrence prolonged by the grid-work of roadways that prevent the water from hitting the Fargo Moorhead metro area all at once.

Forum Editorial Staff:
And, oh yes, the water is moving rapidly off the land because (you guessed it) all that “retention” championed by opponents of the diversion project does not exist. What retention was in the watershed in years past has been drained, ditched and tiled away, in many instances by diversion critics who now say retention is a better flood control option than the diversion.

 

A patent lie, both physically and contextually, from a biased editorial board.

Think about it, earlier in this article the Forum Editorial board rants:

Forum Editorial Staff: “Rain fell steadily over a landscape that was, from a hydrological perspective, still locked in winter frost. Instead of percolating into thawed spring soils, the heavy rainfall ran off into drains, ditches, coulees and eventually into the basin’s major rivers.”

 

So which is it? Is the ground frozen or not? If it is frozen, then the farmer is not to blame for natural run-off…, yet if the ground is not frozen the drains, ditches, coulees cannot carry the water any faster than gravity will allow.

One cannot persist with these lies about farmland tiling increasing water and then turn around and claim that if these farmers held onto “their water” that retention wouldn’t work.

It is also painfully clear the Fargo Forum editorial board has not read the Journal of Hydrology 511 (2014) 474-483 paper on the impact of subsurface drainage on stream flows in the Red River of the North basin.

Either way, you never hear the Forum heralding the burden, caused by the grid-work of roads and undersized culverts, that farmers already shoulder for the metro area and other downstream interests.

Just imagine the impact to the metro area if all drains, ditches and culverts were sized large enough to ensure that no water would be detained as though there were little to no roadways in place like in 1897.

Forum Editorial Staff:
Meanwhile, draining, ditching and tiling accelerate; and no diversion critic/retention advocate we know of has identified viable potential retention sites. Go figure.

 

Yet another subjective lie…, Go Figure!

Aside from the numerous sites outlined in the Halstad Upstream Study (HUR), many of which had been previously identified by the Red River Basin Commission and the Red River Retention Authority, there was little support and no funding to move forward with large scale retention sites until the recent passage of the Farm Bill.

Aside from the indolence of suggesting that it’s the opposition responsibility to identify solutions relating to Fargo’s desire to relocate the impacts of their flood prone areas – the expectation itself is asinine.

There is little to no Forum coverage about the expanded retention of Bald Hill Dam, the Maple River Dam, the proposed Upper Maple River Dam Project, North Ottawa Impoundment Project, the potential Mantador Dam on the Wild Rice river, Riverton Township retention site, Manston Slough Restoration Project, potential White Rock Dam expansion, Agricultural Water Enhancement Program’s (AWEP) Proposed Retention Site, Short Foot Creek…, even less coverage on the recently authorized farm bill which contains funding for retention site projects.

Perhaps the Fargo Forum could better use its alleged journalistic skills to discover why it can take comparatively little time to obtain a 404 permit for the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project and its various components, yet years for retention sites?

What is really behind the delays in the 404 process for retention projects that can provide a combined cumulative benefit with any other internal or external flood protections Fargo ends up with?

Forum Editorial Staff:
The spring of 2014 is an in-your-face reminder that the Red River Basin is an exasperating place when it comes to fickle spring weather and subsequent flood forecasting. Permanent flood protection must be done with those factors in mind. Every responsible assessment has concluded the diversion is the only efficacious long-term solution.

 

The only in-your-face reminder about the spring of 2014, is the incessant fear mongering that Fargo and the Forum use to conjure fears of water in any form as it relates to the Red River Valley watershed.

Its time for Fargo to quit suckling from the state and federal welfare teat and develop responsibly.

It is counter-intuitive to whine about the volatility of flooding and then continue to develop and displace water from the very flood plain providing Fargo with its last line of flood buffering defense.

As for the allegation that “the diversion is the only efficacious long-term solution”…,

What a load of rubbish!

Leave the irresponsible dam out of it, stop displacing water from the natural flood plain, drop the OHB ring dike and use that $65-$70 million to finish internal flood protection.

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One Response to “ Dark Art of Conjuring, Aquaphobia and Other Useless Lies ”

  1. Crests in the 20’s are pretty regular and don’t require much water, it takes a lot lot more water to rise from 30-32 than it does to move from 18-20. Fargo needs to compete internal protection and raise the flood and action levels appropriately–like Wahepton did.

    I don’t believe the frozen ground argument, I have been using my outside buried sump drain for weeks, and it always thaws out late!

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