Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
February 14th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from: Perry Miller, Richland County Commission and Chairman, Richland Wilkin JPA
Fargo is slowly crystallizing its Red River Diversion package. At today’s Diversion Authority meeting, they will again make clear that this is their project and they will decide who the winners and losers will be.
The first issue is how the communities of Hickson, Oxbow and Bakke will be included, along with the rest of the residents of Pleasant Township. The progress report says planning continues on the grand solution of a ring dike around the three rural communities. The Diversion Authority’s desire is to “engage the residents” on all alternatives, but points out that the Authority will make the decision on what will happen at its April meeting. No mention has been made of the Pleasant Township board’s resolution to oppose the ring dike plan.
Also on the agenda is a review of their ag impacts mitigation plan. The Diversion Authority formed a land management committee about a year ago. It was a group of farmers and ag businesses who advise the Diversion Authority on how to compensate landowners and affected business for using their property as a holding pond.
The farmers and diversion representatives have not seen eye to eye on many issues. The Diversion Authority wants to make a one-time payment for rights to flood the land. It would also prohibit any future construction on this property, which would create an economic dead zone south of the diversion. This one-time payment would be $800 to $1,000 per acre. That is about what it costs to produce one crop of sugar beets, or 1 1/2 years of the cost for a corn crop.
If you’re one of the organic farmers in the diversion’s pool, it would be the end of your certification.
The Diversion Authority said they will explore a supplemental crop insurance policy since Federal Crop Insurance wouldn’t cover a manmade flood, but little confidence in the plan has been expressed by local landowners. The landowners understand that this is permanent. Once the easements are put in place, the landscape will be forever changed. But as with the ring dike, this Diversion Authority will decide.
It should be crystal clear to everyone that this is Fargo’s plan by Fargo and for Fargo. If this was a plan for the region, the discussion with neighbors to the south would have been about what path the diversion should take to have the least negative impacts on the area. The plan would have included the communities who have lost marketability for their homes and it would have included the school districts and counties to the south that will lose their tax bases and hopes for future growth so Fargo can build into the floodplain.
If it was a plan for the region, the discussion would be about how those condemned by living in front of the dam and reservoir could survive, rather than choosing their form of execution.