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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Defending Richland and Wilkin counties November 15th, 2012

Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
November 15th, 2012
Wahpeton Daily News

Republished with permission from:
Author: Trana Rogne, Walcott Township resident and committee member Richland Wilkin JPA

My grandfather had a calculator with a roll of paper tape on it. To a small child it seemed magical. It was big and grey with rows of numbered buttons. He would punch the buttons and they would stick down. When he was ready to calculate, he would pull the big lever with the red handle. After a machine-like noise, the paper would advance with either red or black numbers: black for a good answer, red for a bad one. Sometimes he would let me punch the buttons, but I never got to pull the lever. It wasted too much paper. I’m pretty sure that calculator got the family farm through the depression.

Which LEVER is Fargo Pulling for the Dam and Diversion Costs

Which LEVER is Fargo Pulling for the Dam and Diversion Costs?


I bring the calculator up, because I’m wondering if anyone is adding up what plans for the proposed Fargo Diversion are costing. At last week’s meeting, this year’s estimate to date was $11 million. The private engineering firm CH2M Hill receives approximately $700,000 per month. The Diversion Authority’s legal firm billed them $120,000. This is all in addition to the Diversion Authority’s obligation to the Army Corps.

Projected expenditures for 2013 appear to be $44 million. The Minnesota DNR wants $395,000 to study the proposal. It’s going to cost $650,000 to study an unwanted ring dike around Bakke, Hickson, and Oxbow. $500,000 is going to be spent on a retention study. The Corps and the engineering firm need to be paid.

The Federal government is more than broke. It’s that fiscal cliff thing. It was proposed that Fargo get $300 million from the state of North Dakota. They’ve been allocated $75 million so far. Turns out they are going to need almost $600 million from the state, even if the feds come through. Did I mention they are paying $10,000 a month to a consultant to help Congress find some cash.

Fargo is building their dikes to 42.5 feet. It’s an expensive move, but it will give them protection above the current FEMA 100 year flood level. The price tag will be in the neighborhood of $250 million, and it was a good decision. But good, bad or otherwise, is someone pulling the lever on the calculator? Are the numbers black, or red? Would legislators rather replace the paper on the machine, or pick up the I O U’s if costs skyrocket?

Meanwhile, the folks upstream of the planned dam and reservoir wait in limbo. Property values have plummeted, school taxes have been raised to cover them, and there is no end in sight. Someone needs to pull the lever.

Which LEVER is Fargo pulling?

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2 Responses to “ Defending Richland and Wilkin counties November 15th, 2012 ”


    There was a Diversion Authority meeting to promote the project, where the new home in the flood plain/flood way was brought up and a Fargo City commissioner respond they could be buying this house back in 5 years. The city representatives also responded they were not able stop development in these areas due to treats of law suits. Needless to say the audience was not impressed. Then it became apparent that Fargo is not able to control its own growth. The issue is readily apparent when one considers that according to the Diversion Authority’s own admission Fargo has had 13 approximately major floods since 1944. With growth into the flood plain/flood way as the Fargo Forum puts it —
    “Fargo has a less-than-admirable history of the tail wagging the dog. That is, for too many years, building and development policies were all but dictated to the city by builders and developers.”

    Someone has to step in to stop this insanity.

  2. After what seems like an eternity in limbo, I, as one of the residents and employed in the affected area, believe the City of Fargo should be sued in a class action lawsuit for the stress,the time lost to fighting the injustice and propaganda, and future stress related illnesses that no doubt will surface from prolonged anxiety. I, and everyone in the affected area should be compensated for what probably will cause an early death for so many of us. My name is Doug Ness and I live in the affected area.

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