Republished with permission from:Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: August 8th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Editorial Team, Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Prior to the flood of 2009, the city of Oxbow had nothing in the way of city-wide flood protection. That flood event damaged homes that were located on land east of the clubhouse, an area that is low and that effectively became part of the river channel by the time the 2009 flood reached its crest. These homes have since been removed and permanent flood protection, subsidized by North Dakota taxpayers, has been constructed for the city.
Oxbow was in the news a lot after the 2009 flood and was made to sound as though it was particularly flood prone. In real terms, though, apart from some water on some streets in 1997, most of the city had never seen water. Keep in mind that up until recently, Oxbow had no effective flood control measures in place, not even on its storm sewer system. Based upon numbers issued by the Diversion Authority in what it called a 2013-02-18 FM Diversion Detention White Paper, [read full white paper], the 2009 river flows at Oxbow exceeded a FEMA 500-year event. As a result of the work done to protect Oxbow after the 2009 flood, the city is protected to levels in excess of that same 500-year event today.
Meanwhile, Hickson and Bakke have never flooded. The $65,000,000 (yes, million) taxpayer-funded levee project currently proposed for Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke isn’t about protecting the area from today’s flood threat but from the proposed new water to be imposed by the FM Diversion project. The proposed ring dike is only necessary so that Fargo can dam up the rivers to clear its flood plain for future development. This dam/diversion project is being advanced against the wishes of the majority of those North Dakota residents directly affected by it.
But, didn’t the majority within Hickson, Bakke and Oxbow vote to accept the levee? Actually, Bakke and Hickson overwhelmingly rejected the levee and passed that information on to the diversion authority. Oxbow, too, voted with the result showing support for the levee from 61 of the 108 eligible ballots. The votes and opinions of Hickson and Bakke residents have been ignored by both the county commission and the Diversion Authority and only those from Oxbow are being used to make the ring dike determination. So, out of the roughly 190 households within the confines of the levee, an affirmative vote from only 61 (all from Oxbow) is needed to declare majority support! This is democracy, Fargo style.