Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
May 15th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Perry Miller, JPA chair and Dave Morken, MNDAK Coalition, chair
A public debate is happening over how much money has been spent on the lawsuit between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority and the Richland Wilkin Joint Power Authority. The JPA first brought legal action against the Corps because the Corps’ very own environmental studies and design work are being challenged. The Diversion Authority joining the lawsuit was not challenged by the JPA.
The lawsuit is not intended to prevent flood protection for Fargo, but to get the Diversion Authority and city of Fargo to check their planned expansion into the last natural flood plain around Fargo. Fargo continues to promote development into an area where water naturally collects. Runoff from the entire southern valley in three states takes the most direct route to the Red River of the North. Mother Nature designed it that way. Fargo’s expansion into the floodplain is destroying the natural storage area by acting like a funnel, forcing more water into the river channel and increasing the river level.
Mr. Mahoney’s comments: “It would be nice if they would just agree with us or sat down and talk with us,” illustrates the road blocks the JPA and MnDak Upstream Coalition have encountered when we discuss the issues created by the diversion and dam. At no time, has the Diversion Authority been willing to discuss with either group, alternatives that would achieve flood control for Fargo and reduce impacts for those upstream. Whether directed by the Army Corps, or by their own attorneys, their practice of stonewalling those who are being hurt is at best unproductive, and at worst, unethical.
The Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke ring dike has been promoted as the grand solution to “take care of the upstream opposition.” Instead, it protects communities behind a ring dike that two of them (Hickson and Bakke) have no interest in living behind for several reasons. It’s a very real possibility the dike could act as a bowl, filling with a heavy rainfall. It also pushes additional water onto their rural neighbors’ homes and lands during floods, not to mention the reduction in property values. These communities are at an elevation that remains dry during a 100-year flood under natural circumstances. Bakke and Hickson have never flooded and they don’t need a ring dike.
We welcome the discussion of alternatives with the Diversion Authority if they’re will to actually discuss them and not dictate their terms.