Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
January 30th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Editorial Team, Richland Wilkin JPA
Why do we care? To hear it told by the Diversion Board Authority, upstream citizens south of Fargo should be happy as clams. They say we will be paid for the monetary damage done to our land and communities.
They admit there will be no compensation for, what the Corps calls, negative social effects. Cemeteries will be ring diked, relocated or just flooded and family farms developed over generations will be changed or eliminated forever. Century-old communities will be permanently affected, all for the future growth of Fargo. The ability of these communities to grow or even maintain their current population will be impaired. The Kindred School District has been impacted, with its tax base diminished and no redress considered. The residents of the district have already had their taxes raised to help cover the loss and the dam and diversion have yet to be built. Fargo’s Diversion Authority officials have refused to cover this loss, which they created.
The Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke ring dike has become a contentious issue that divides the community. A majority of this community voted against the plan. The remainder of the residents, a clear minority from Oxbow, cut a favorable deal for millions in benefits, and they now actively promote the plan they once opposed.
Regional flood protection or the chances for it have been jeopardized by a plan that benefits only Fargo, but requires sacrifice from everyone else.
The basic premise that the local project sponsor, the Diversion Authority, determines what is to be considered and what level of flood protection to be provided is deeply flawed. Planning based on this premise leads to an unwise use of billions in tax dollars. This plan, which only protects Fargo/Moorhead, is short sighted and can only lead to higher federal outlays for future flood disaster relief in the Red River Valley. The Army Corps policies that led to the formulation of this plan are in need of revision. The latitude given to the local sponsors of Army Corps projects, to dictate the design based only on the local sponsor’s priorities to the detriment of the neighboring communities, encourages wasteful imprudent plans and poor results.
This is why we care.