Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
November 7th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Editorial Team, Richland Wilkin JPA
Where is the FM Diversion going? The Richland-Wilkin JPA, MNDak Upstream Coalition and newly formed Upstream Cemetery Authority are fighting the unjust and unnecessary impacts to the citizens of Wilkin, Clay, Cass and Richland counties.
As the U.S. Army Corps’ documents state, and Fargo leaders admit, this plan is about growth and was designed to remove the FEMA flood plain controls from 70-square miles of flood-prone land and provide protection to the city of Fargo. With the change in location of the dam further south from the Corp’s original recommended northern location and ensuing diversion ditch alignment, the development of the flood plain is expedited.
With the new studies of distributed retention – temporary storage – of flood waters, and the use of realistic, non-inflated flood levels, we see more options to eliminate the impacts to the citizens in the staging (storage) area and the adjacent areas. This also could eliminate the need to ring dike four cites. With higher in-town flows and higher levees, Fargo will have 42.5 feet of flood protection. What remains at play with this concept is the development of the flood plain, a benefit that is unjustly paid for with impacts to the upstream citizens. In other words, the permanent loss to upstream folks is Fargo’s permanent gain.
So why are we still here, unable to resolve this impasse?
The answer is vividly depicted by the Fargo Forum’s Oct. 27 cartoon showing bulldozers lined up to roll over the lone Upstream Coalition member facing down the dozer, a makeover of the famous picture from Tiananmen Square in 1989. If you can’t beat them by playing fair, bulldoze them. The Diversion Authority, hand-in-hand with the Army Corps, intends to do just that.
There are ways to resolve the impasse. The current plan implements collusion and back scratching to bulldoze the project past the lives of the upstream citizens who don’t currently flood. This will result in extended courts battles and ugly arguments. It is not a productive means to resolve the issues. The more sensible approach is to invite all parties to the table armed with all the “actual” facts and data, and discuss solutions that will benefit and protect Fargo, the upstream and the downstream folks and Red River Basin as a whole.
The federal government and our congressional delegation have an interest in reducing the flood risk for the entire Red River Basin, not just one city.