Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
June 19th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Dave Morken, Chairman, MnDak Upstream Coalition
In March 2011, a group of citizens met to discuss Fargo Moorhead Diversion Authority’s plan to dam the Red River and use southern Cass and Clay Counties and northern Richland and Wilkin Counties as a large staging area. From those initial meetings came the MnDak Upstream Coalition. Coalition members spent long hours reading and understanding the Army Corp’s environmental impact studies. Other members worked to educate the public and garner public support for opposition to the plan developing in front of us. This grassroots organization has grown in strength and understanding. Some lessons were a little harder to understand and accept but we have learned from each one of them.
Over the three years, we have visited and explained our opposition to the FM Dam and Diversion to state and local governments in both Minnesota and North Dakota. Delegations went to our nations’ capital to meet with legislators and government officials to communicate that less destructive, less expensive alternative flood control plans exist to protect Fargo and Moorhead from flooding.
The Joint Powers Authority was formed to provide a way for governmental units to oppose the current Diversion Authority plan. The JPA concluded that a lawsuit would be necessary to make our opposition heard. As we are experiencing, the wheels of justice can turn slowly when we want them to move faster but yet they move along. What will the next move be? Will we need to seek an injunction to prevent the Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke ring dike from being overbuilt, or will we need to seek other legal remedies?
The MnDak Upstream Coalition maintains contact with both state and federal government officials. We have a lobbyist on staff to guide us in effective ways to interact with those officials, and she’s been an invaluable asset to our organization.
We have been accused of being against flood control for Fargo and Moorhead, but when we put forward a plan that could lessen the impacts in the counties and utilize the flood plain south of Fargo as a flood plain, it is insinuated that we don’t know or understand what we’re proposing. The “Fargo First” plan we presented in Comstock in January was developed using the Diversion Authority’s data by a well respected engineer hired by the Upstream Coalition and the JPA.
With the professionals we’ve hired, fund raising activities became necessary to ensure we could pay those individuals. Our initial fund raising was done by word-of-mouth and letter campaigns. We’ve held two successful dinners and are planning another one for April 5th at Comstock, MN. We hope you can attend.
As we wait for the Minnesota DNR to complete their environmental study, the MnDak Upstream Coalition board continues to meet weekly. We’ve been blessed with dedicated members who continue to volunteer their time and talents to prevent the devastation that will occur if the FM Diversion is built as currently proposed.
* Dave Morken is the chairman of the MnDak Upstream Coalition and lives on the family farmstead in Eagle township between Christine and Abercrombie.