Republished with permission from:Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
June 27th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Trana Rogne, board member Mndak Upstream Coalition
Whether you were raised in a big city or rural North Dakota, a level of honesty was en-grained in most of us by our parents and our churches. When we went shopping for a used cars we quickly learned that the level of honesty in people varies somewhat. The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Fargo Moorhead Diversion Board of Authority, (DA) have joined that esteemed group of individuals whose level of honesty varies somewhat.
Well more than somewhat.
Through the development of FM Diversion the FEMA 500 year flood has been 43.5 feet. This was based on how many times it has flooded since they started keeping records. As a result, the expected annual average damages would be $77 million. That was not enough to justify spending $2 billion. If you can raise the flood level, then more property would be damaged. The Corps convened a special study group, the EOE, who set the 500 year flood level at 46.7 feet. This was done by counting only some of the years past, not all. This achieved estimated annual average damages of $194 million. Bigger is better! The “big one” is coming! MinDak Upstream Coalition cried foul in the Daily News, but the Army Corps responded saying their estimates were the best in the land. You can read these articles at the following links:
These articles make it clear that the Army Corps figures and their expert opinion analysis are deeply flawed and constitute a blatant attempt to hype the risk to justify public money.
Recently when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources(DNR) started their scoping process, to review the FM Diversion, it was noted that the Army Corps 500 year flood level had been reduced to 43.3 feet! It turns out that our criticism was valid and the Army Corps numbers were quietly changed back in September 2012. You would think this would have come up during the North Dakota legislative session, when they were asking all of us for $450 million. Perhaps they thought a lower damage estimate wouldn’t help the sale. Neither the DA or the Corps were about to announce that damage from a really big flood wasn’t going to be as much as previously advertised.
When the Corps was asked about this omission, the response was, “As I mentioned last evening, I’m not sure which DA documents are still using the 46.7 number. Please contact John Glatzmaier . . . regarding their documents.” As of yesterday the Diversion Authority was still using the old false numbers on their web site to sell the whole “sky is falling” scenario.
I apologize to used car salesmen everywhere.