Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
December 6th, 2012
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Author: Trana Rogne, director, MnDak Upstream Coalition
The Fargo Diversion Authority says they need to flood 50,000 acres south of town as a reservoir to mitigate the damages caused by their diversion plan. Much of the land they want to protect is undeveloped flood plain and regularly underwater. Fargo’s insistence on developing natural flood plain is the problem.
Why does Fargo and Cass County keep building in areas that have been flooded, or are in immediate danger of flooding, from floods like 1997 and 2009? The Diversion Authority said there have been 13 major floods since 1944. Yet, building permits have been issued for natural flood plain areas as if it were a priority.
We saw the Fargo School District build a new school in the natural flood plain. We see a new project allowed adjacent to the Red River, close to where other homes were recently bought out. This new home off Highway 81 may very well have to be bought back in five years, as admitted by a city commissioner at the Horace public meeting. Fargo expressed a need for $133 million for internal protection in the south side of the city. Why did the city issue permits for the homes in the first place?
In private meetings, Diversion Authority officers say they have tried to stop development but are not able to do so. They claim they were unable to stop the construction of Davies High School, but it would not have been built without the city’s permission.
The inescapable conclusion is that Fargo, Cass County and private interests have no desire to stop developing in the natural flood plain. As the FM Diversion project documents note: “Growth rate is expected at the same rate of 266 acres per year,” regardless of whether or not there is a permanent solution.
Should Fargo stop building in the natural flood plain until a reasonable plan is developed and implemented? Apparently not. The flood risks get greater as each home is built. Growth and flood protection costs will continue with buyouts, levees and massive tax expenditures to protect what should not have been built in the first place.
The Diversion Authority is asking those upstream to pay the cost of unbridled development in the natural flood plain. The price will not be a mere $2 billion, it will be the rural communities and farms located on the high ground where Fargo intends to create a 75-square-mile reservoir.