Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
June 12th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
When it comes to numbers, you can’t trust Fargo’s Diversion Authority. The often repeated assertion that the FM Dam and Diversion will somehow “protect” 200,000 people is false. The FM Diversion only provides 100 year protection and the majority of Fargo residents do not reside in the 100 year flood plain. If every Fargo resident was somehow protected by this plan, the number would only be 100,000. Benefits to Moorhead – zip, West Fargo – zip, likewise Dilworth and every other Metro resident typically included when the 200,000 number is pulled from Fargo’s bag of propaganda talking points.
The magnitude of the risk is also baloney. If you recall the sales team at the Fargo Diversion Authority added 4 feet to the FEMA 100 year flood level to lobby the legislature, claiming the 2009 flood was only a 50 year event. For development purposes and building permits however, Fargo still uses the lower FEMA numbers.
Equally false, that Oxbow is “flood prone.” The $65,000,000.00 dollars is just a payoff, a deal Oxbow’s Mayor cut over the objections of 2 of the 4 city councilmen. Oxbow is protected by a new permanent levee system that is higher than the 500 year FEMA level. The $65,000,000.00 was just grease for the machine, the pork Fargo promised to pay Oxbow to switch from strong opponents to strong supporters. North Dakota legislators who were informed that Oxbow was unprotected were misled.
Another deceptive Diversion Authority talking point is that only 35,000 acres will be impacted by the dam. Walaker, Vanyo and the other pitchmen only count an acre as impacted if it has more than a foot of additional water. Don Nelson, whose family farm will be inundated by the dam, recently pointed out that an additional foot of water on his property will put 8 feet in his basement (property that currently exists well above the 500 year flood plain). The real number of acres flooded by Fargo’s dam is more than 50,000, 35 square miles of which are in Clay and Wilkin Counties.
False talking point #5 often repeated by Fargo media: the current dam and diversion plan is the only plan that will protect Fargo. The Army Corps disagrees. They preferred a diversion ½ the size, for ½ the money that did not call for a dam.
Fargo’s false talking point #6, that the recent Federal Authorization makes it a done deal: Nope – there was no funding in the Congressional Authorization. Further, unless the Minnesota DNR ignores settled Minnesota law, there will be no dam on the Red River.
Lastly, the PR gang at the Diversion Authority have been turning themselves inside out trying to vilify the benefits of retention. The simple fact is that if upstream retention, as has been laid out by the various publicly funded organizations, had been in place in ’09, the biggest flood in recorded history would have been approximately 3 feet lower. Further, if completed now, Fargo would never see more than a 40 foot flood. Fargo’s PR gang hates this solution because it maximizes the benefits of preserving the flood plain, the very land Fargo so desperately wants to develop. Retention and a diversion ½ the size is the obvious solution; not only to Fargo’s problem but to basin wide problems. But if flood protection was the real priority of Fargo’s leaders, it would have been built years ago. Make no mistake, this plan, the Fargo Dam plan, is about development.