Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: August 2nd, 2012
Republished with persmission from:
Wahpeton Daily News
In a surprising bipartisan action, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last week to reject legislation proposed by Sen. John Hoeven that would have promoted and encouraged flood plain development at taxpayer expense. While the bill would have shifted the cost of permanent levee construction from local cities to the federal government, the vote is a bellwether and bad news for Fargo’s Diversion Authority as it shows that Congress is not disposed to approve projects that induce growth and development in the flood plain.
The bill, which had already cleared the Senate, was scheduled to pass without controversy in the House under a procedure that allows for passage on a perfunctory voice vote. The bill was forced into a rare floor debate, which resulted in an overwhelming bipartisan rejection on a 254 to 126 vote.
The main opponent of the bill, Missouri Rep. Carnahan, successfully argued that building more levees was not the answer. (Lambrecht article, St. Louis Dispatch, July 23, 2012).
“Instead of letting nature do what it is designed to do, this bill would set a precedent for other states, increasing catastrophic flood levels across the country,” he said. Opponents were concerned that in the long run the bill would result in harm by encouraging more development behind the constructed levees.
The message is clear – Congress will no longer agree to fund the old game of building in the flood plain, subsidize the rebuilding after those homes are predictably flooded, build levees, dams, and dikes only to have that those natural flood plains flooded again. They said this is not in the national interest and will not be funded.
Will the Fargo Diversion Authority take this message to heart and revise the FM project to use the natural flood plain for its best use and let growth go to the high ground?
Unfortunately, we see the Diversion Authority propping up this flawed plan, spending millions of tax dollars on engineers, project managers, public relations firms, financial advisors and lobbyists.
There are alternatives that protect Fargo from flooding that do not also “induce growth” in the flood plain. These alternatives have not been fully explored by the Corps. Our requests that the U.S. Army Corps reconsider alternatives to the destructive diversion/dam and reservoir have been met with obfuscation and outright refusal. The longer the Fargo Diversion Authority delays coming to terms with the requirements of state and federal law, the longer Fargo Moorhead will wait for responsible flood protection.