Original Publication Date: July 5th, 2012
Republished with persmission from:
Wahpeton Daily News
Yes Virginia, it is a high hazard dam. Those of us in the Upstream Resistance are regularly surprised by our neighbors in Fargo-Moorhead who still believe Fargo’s leaders are trying to sell them a diversion. It did start out as a simple diversion. The U.S. Army Corps presented Fargo with a plan to divert the Red River to provide permanent flood protection, which protected 30-square miles with no dam involved. Fargo rejected that plan and insisted on a larger one that drained the flood plain south of Fargo, diverting the Red and Wild Rice rivers around a 70-square-mile area.
Fargo’s plan took so much from the natural flood plain it would have resulted in unmanageable impacts to the valley north of Fargo. Rather than go back to the Corps’ original plan involving only 30-square miles, Fargo decided to build dams on the Red and Wild Rice rivers. Fargo elected to have the residents of southern Cass and Clay, and northern Richland and Wilkin counties take the hit. The flood water is backed up onto the communities to the south rather than diverted immediately around the city.
The result is that everyone south of Fargo is inundated in order to increase the acreage available for Fargo to develop. Unlike Virginia’s Santa Claus, the dam is real. The reasons are important. The dam is only necessary because of the large area Fargo wants to drain. Remember, the original Army Corps plan only protected Fargo-Moorhead for 30-square miles.
Fargo cannot expand south as the land south of Davies High School is a natural flood plain that collects water when we have even moderate flooding. Fargo’s solution: protect the extra 40-square miles for development by building dams on the Red and Wild Rice and back up the water that would normally and naturally spread out into the floodplain. Hold that water on higher ground in a reservoir covering 54,000 acres, flooding Hickson, Bakke, Oxbow, Christine, Comstock, and northern Wilkin and Richland Counties.
In the materials published by the Army Corps it is reported that the F-M metro area will grow by 266 acres a year regardless of whether there is permanent flood protection for Fargo. Assuming that the law is respected, and flood plain development is restricted, that growth would occur on the high ground in Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth, Casselton, Comstock and even Christine. This seems to be unacceptable for Fargo’s leaders, and is the reason they rejected the Corps’ diversion plan and instead insist on a 70-square-mile monstrosity, and a dam to flood its neighbors.
Coincidentally, Fargo’s dam just happens to follow on the boundary between the Kindred and Davies school districts. That the dam/diversion is primarily motivated by a desire to develop the flood plain south of Fargo is extremely important for another reason, but for that you will have to read Defending Richland and Wilkin Counties next week