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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Defending Richland and Wilkin counties March 21st, 2013

Fargo ND's Ditch to Nowhere

Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
March 21, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News

Republished with permission from: E. John Carlson, resident of Oxbow and Cass County, ND

The North Dakota Senate Appropriations committee is considering HB 1020. That bill passed the State House by a vote of 90-4. HB 1020 gives Fargo an unprecedented $102 million to raise their internal dikes to 100-year-flood levels, but prohibits any of it being spent on their diversion. Fargo wants to strip the restrictions, but keep all the money.

The Fargo Diversion is a $2 billion boondoggle in the making. The federal government has filibustered, sequestered and borrowed their way into unimaginable debt. They have committed no money to this project. Minnesota has clearly stated they want no part of the diversion. The Minnesota DNR has not even started their review and they have the ability to deny a permit for damming the Red River. Yet Fargo says they want to start construction on the north end this summer, with or without the fed’s or Minnesota’s support. Fargo is trying to convince North Dakota Legislators that they should get on the hook for half the project’s cost.

Do the math. If, and that’s a big if, the Feds kick in their $844 million share, the taxpayers of North Dakota will pay almost $600 million to help Fargo flood their neighbors and 50,000 acres south of town. These numbers are conservative. The project cost estimates are made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They estimated the cost of the three-mile Breckenridge, Minn., diversion to be $21 million. That project is almost done and the current cost is $39 million. The Roseau diversion is 4.5 miles long and was projected to cost $24 million. That project is half completed and waiting for Congressional re-authorization and more funding to finish. They are estimating total costs in Roseau to reach $38 million. But that one is only half done, so the final cost is still up in the air.

Can we even guess what the final cost of the Fargo Diversion will be? The four concrete structures that will carry the Sheyenne, Maple, and Upper and Lower Rush rivers through the half mile wide diversion have never before been attempted in the United States. The Corps says check with Europe for the blueprints. The taxpayers of North Dakota and Fargo will have to cover the entire cost of underestimating these project components, as well as the dams on the Wild Rice and Red rivers.

The House members who voted 90-4 to approve HB 1020 got it right. They stated unequivocally that Fargo should take $102 million, in addition to the $75 million given them in previous sessions, and build up their dikes before they start digging what could be a ditch to nowhere. North Dakota taxpayers should not pay for a dam and reservoir that displaces fellow residents, when Fargo can achieve 100-year protection with a more modest plan. Now is the time to contact your state senators and ask them to support HB 1020 as it stands. No changes. No dam.

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