Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
April 25th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Craig Hertsgaard, resident of Richland County
Everybody’s waiting. Waiting for the snow to melt. Waiting for the weather to warm. Waiting for the North Dakota legislature to finish their work. It always happens. This time the wait is for something more urgent. Those of us in the southern Red River Valley are wondering what our lives may look like two years from now. Fargo wants to trade new homes behind a dam, for ours in front of one.
The folks who have been traveling back and forth to Bismarck have told our story to anyone who will listen. Most times, the ears have been attentive to how a project designed to benefit one community, can devastate another. Most understand the conflict that goes along with making difficult decisions. It can’t be easy pressing the green or red button to approve, or vote down someone’s proposal or amendment. But they do. They have to make decisions, or the state stops responding to its citizens.
The difficult part for groups like the MnDak Coalition and the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, is that we wait for someone else to decide our future. We know there are solutions to protect Fargo from flooding that don’t include pushing water on 50,000 acres south of town. So far, over $60 million has been spent by the Diversion Authority and Army Corps to convince people that they have the only solution. The State Water Commission’s Chief engineer, Todd Sando, told the Senate Appropriations committee that the state can typically construct a water project for half of what a Corps project would cost. It sounds like Sando knows there are other solutions to Fargo’s flooding as well.
Sometimes waiting isn’t so bad. This may be the time for the legislature to encourage everyone to wait. Let’s wait and see if the federal government has any intention of matching the money the legislature is willing to designate for Fargo flood control. Let’s wait and see if the Minnesota DNR will allow anyone to dam the Red River, and push water on the residents of western Minnesota, when that state receives no benefit from the project. Let’s wait before we start building structures that will flood farms and homes and cemeteries. Perhaps, with a little luck, and a little effort, and with a little help from the legislature, we can find a solution with a lot less losers, and a lot more folks happy to call North Dakota their home.