Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
April 17th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Mayor Tom Askegaard, city of Comstock, Minn.,
Editor’s Note: The following letter was written Monday, April 14 by the mayor of Comstock, Minn., to the EIS project manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Dear Ms. Townley:
I am writing on behalf of my community and the city of Comstock, Minn., of which I am mayor. As you are aware, the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority has announced its intention to construct a ring dike around the North Dakota community of Oxbow and Hickson-Bakke. Recently, the Army Corps has announced that it will be awarding bids for the construction of the ring dike on May 8, 2014. The plans call for a 1.5 mile 17-foot-high dike on the North Dakota banks of the Red River.
As it is a ring dike, this 17-foot-high dike will essentially have tie back levies running west from the river bank on both the north and south sides. The city of Comstock is directly east of the proposed dike. To date, the sponsors of this ring dike have only studied its impacts as a component of the dam and staging area under exaggerated river levels. No studies have been completed to show the impacts under existing conditions. If constructed, this dike will inevitably force flood waters into Minnesota for the length of the project, negatively impacting Minnesota, and the Comstock area in particular.
I am familiar with your letter dated Jan. 14, 2014 to Darrel Vanyo, warning Fargo’s Diversion Authority that this action may violate Minnesota law. Prior to your letter, the Diversion Authority had treated the Oxbow, Hickson-Bakke ring dike as merely mitigation for the water they intended to stage on my community. When the ring dike was added to Fargo’s diversion plan it was clearly only a mitigation project and was included in a supplemental environmental analysis for which a 404 hearing was held. At no time was the Oxbow, Hickson-Bakke ring dike talked about as independent or necessary, other than to mitigate the flooding to be caused by the proposed dam. Oxbow already has a ring dike, recently completed, protecting that city above the FEMA 500-year level. The other communities, Bakke and Hickson, are situated well above the flood plain and are in no danger of flooding and universally oppose any ring dike. Oxbow and its private golf course are presently protected to a greater degree than is Fargo.
After receiving your letter, Fargo-Moorhead’s Diversion Authority concocted an “independent utility” story. They are now obtaining a new 404 permit to try to support the fiction that the project is somehow independent. I would urge you to examine the documents on file with the North Dakota Water Commission showing Oxbow’s recently completed flood protection, as well as the elevations of Bakke and Hickson. Ironically, the existing ring dike, completed two years ago, was designed by the same engineering firm that is presently the lead contractor for the F-M Diversion Authority.
Construction of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority’s proposed Oxbow, Hickson-Bakke ring dike may have disastrous consequences for the Minnesota residents, farmers and property owners on the east side of the Red River. On behalf of my community, I am requesting that the Minnesota DNR take immediate action to prevent construction of this F-M Diversion component until the DNR completes its review and decides whether to permit the project as a whole. Would you also please bring this matter to the attention of Gov. Dayton and the Minnesota Attorney General.
Mayor Tom Askegaard
City of Comstock, Minn.