Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
May 30th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
Moorhead is advertising in the Parade of Homes and at makemoorheadhome.com: “Moorhead’s got flood protection covered. You can spend your money on your new house. . . . Flood protection in all new subdivisions – no flood insurance required.”
It wasn’t always so. Moorhead’s involvement with the FM Diversion began as a collaborative effort to obtain flood protection for both cities. Over the past 5 years as Fargo has spent 60 million dollars lobbying to double the size of and costs of the project, Moorhead has quietly, responsibly and cost effectively built permanent flood protection. Moorhead’s soon to be certified dikes and levies provide permanent flood protection to 42 feet, plus two feet of freeboard.
At the beginning of the process Fargo and Moorhead may have had interests in common, but those days have come and gone. By doubling the plan’s footprint to 71 square miles which in turn required the addition of a high hazard dam that will flood an 80 square mile “staging area”, Fargo has rejected practical solutions. Fargo’s leaders have instead created a conflict of interest that makes Moorhead’s continued participation an unethical abuse of power that serves no legitimate Minnesota interest. The expanded plan does nothing for Minnesota and actually disadvantages Moorhead by subsidizing Fargo development into the flood plain south of the Metro.
At what point will Moorhead’s leaders quit turning a deaf ear to the warnings of the MN DNR and a blind eye to the harm Fargo’s plan will cause to Minnesota residents? The high hazard dam Fargo intends to build on the Red River will flood 23,000 acres or 35 square miles just in Minnesota. The tired rationalization of “our people work in Fargo” became meaningless once Fargo’s plan morphed away from the legitimate goal of flood protection and became instead a development scheme to transfer Cass County’s flood plain onto rural residents of Clay and Wilkin Counties.
There comes a time when continued silence and acquiescence to wrongful conduct is just as damning as the conduct itself. Moorhead’s representative on the Diversion Authority questions nothing, approves everything while repeating the false and misleading talking points put out by the Diversion Authority’s publicists. How can it rationally be claimed that a foot of water is not an impact? How can a competent leader publicly argue Oxbow is “flood prone” when the public record is clear that that Oxbow’s recently completed flood protection exceeds the 500 year level?
Moorhead leaders have a duty to question whether supporting a plan that floods 35 square miles of Minnesota residents will serve any legitimate interest of their constituents. Tuesday’s council vote rejecting Fargo’s plan to use eminent domain to forcibly enter private Minnesota property was a good start. Hopefully they will continue to debate whether they should represent Moorhead or merely serve Fargo’s development interests by supporting a bloated plan, that unnecessarily sacrifices Moorhead’s natural advantages and injures thousands of Minnesota residents.