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Defending Richland and Wilkin counties June 28th, 2012

Daily News - Defending Richland and Wilkin counties June 28th, 2012

Original Publication Date: June 28th, 2012
Republished with persmission from:
Wahpeton Daily News

[ The following is an email communication made on June 15, 2012 by Wilkin County Attorney Tim Fox to Kent Lokkesmoe, the director of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Capital Investment Division, regarding Fargo’s plans to dam the Wild Rice and Red rivers: ]

Kent Lokkesmoe, Director
DNR Capital Investment
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, Mn 55155

Both Wilkin County, Minn., and Richland County, N.D., continue to unequivocally oppose the Fargo Dam to the extent that it impacts our counties.

Mayor Voxland, mayor of the city of Moorhead, and officials from Fargo have made it clear that Fargo/Moorhead is protecting for a 500-year-flood. The U.S. Army Corps denies this assertion. The official Corps “code phrase” is “constructing to have the ability to protect to a 500-year-flood event.”

My reading of the flood hazard mitigation grants are for protection for a 100-year-flood, not a 500-year-flood. I would argue that any grant request including planning, design, engineering, or construction that exceeds the 100-year-flood elevation be denied. In particular, it would be extremely offensive that Minnesota tax dollars be used to plan, design and construct protection for the future expansion of Fargo, N.D., at the expense of northern Wilkin County. The intended use of the “Dam” is to protect to any level, without a planned release of water, regardless of the extent of damage upstream.

In the same tone, it is understood that flood protection is needed for Moorhead as well as Fargo. There are better solutions that have been ignored, primarily because it may restrict Fargo expanding to the south. Those plans include “Retention areas” that would benefit the entire Red River Basin, or taking the original Corps plan and moving the “Dam” north. I would suggest 52 Street South in Fargo. In the past, that is where Fargo has successfully placed a temporary levee.

Personally, as a Minnesota taxpayer, Minnesota Flood Hazard Mitigation Grant funds were not intended to be Fargo development funds for flood- prone areas south of Fargo. This would include the funneling of those funds through Moorhead to Fargo.

I have not even touched on the technical flaws and adverse environmental impacts of the project.

Wilkin County and Richland County have established and entered into a Joint Powers Agreement to organize and direct a challenge to the construction of a dam on the Wild Rice and the Red River. In addition to Wilkin and Richland counties, there are currently 27 political entities from Minnesota and North Dakota that are members of the Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority.

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