Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
January 31st, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from: Sid Berg, Richland County Commissioner, Director of Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Dear Rep. Robert J. Skarphol, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Education and Environmental Division and Committee Members: I am writing in my capacity as a Richland County Commissioner and a Director of the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority. I have enclosed a list of the 35 counties, cities, townships and school districts that are members of the Richland-Wilkin JPA.
I am writing to thank you for making time last week to visit with Commissioner (Perry) Miller, representatives of the MnDak Upstream Coalition and myself. We appreciated the opportunity to discuss with you the grave and unacceptable impacts that will result to our communities if the Fargo dam and diversion is funded. Additionally, I would like to respond to the assertions made by Mayor Walaker in his letter dated Jan. 23, 2013.
Mayor Walaker represents himself as working “with surrounding communities and property owners in the Red River Valley to ensure that any impacts due to the Diversion will not go without mitigation.” This is simply not correct. The Diversion Authority and the mayor of Fargo have never sought to work with either Richland or Wilkin counties regarding Fargo’s plans to flood the property owners and communities in northern Richland and Wilkin Counties. The extent of their efforts with our commission was to put on two informational sessions. During one of these Aaron Snyder, U.S. Army Corps project director, was asked by Wilkin County Commission Lyle Hovland whether it mattered that his constituents did not wish to sell their property. Mr. Snyder’s response was that it “didn’t matter.” He went on to say that since Fargo’s dam/diversion plan was a federal project they would take whatever property they needed, regardless of the wishes of local residents.
On another occasion Cass County Commissioner and Diversion Authority Chair Daryl Vanyo traveled to Christine to meet with myself, Commissioner Miller and members of the MnDak Upstream Coalition. At this meeting no overtures were made to compromise or even discuss changes that might be made to accommodate Richland County. On the contrary, at one point Commissioner Vanyo told those present that “you wouldn’t have anything out here if it wasn’t for Fargo.” This tone and attitude is typical of the dictatorial manner in which Fargo has treated Richland County and communities to the south, with the exception of the city of Oxbow.
Richland County and the counties, townships, cities and school districts I represent support permanent flood protection for Fargo. However, there are more cost effective and less destructive alternatives to the current plan for a dam and 80-square-mile reservoir. I would ask that any funds disbursed by the state be limited to those necessary to bring the cities’ internal levies and dikes to 42.5 feet. This level of protection is nearly two feet higher than the greatest flood ever recorded since the area was homesteaded.