Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: October 17th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Editorial Team, Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
There’s great news coming for flood control in the Red River Valley. The latest technology says there could be 25% more water storage available to help reduce spring flooding than was previously thought. The Red River Basin Commission’s Long Term Flood Solutions study from two years ago said there was enough storage available in the basin to reduce flows in the Red River by 20%. Flood control skeptics asked that the study be done again with models provided by the Army Corps of Engineers that were supposed to be more accurate. An additional 25% is an astounding number. It means that flood planners can pick the very best spots for storage (aka retention) that will benefit the local areas as well as the greater valley. Watershed managers and agencies like the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have known for years that comprehensive water management is the best approach to flood control in a large basin like the Red River Valley.
The folks at the Diversion Authority will likely scoff at the results. They’ve barricaded themselves in a room with a plan that only protects Fargo with no regard for the rest of the valley. Their only solution is to build a dam that backs water on 50,000 acres of rural North Dakota and Minnesota. What’s worse, the most environmentally damaging part of Fargo’s multi-billion dollar project doesn’t protect the city, but rather removes 20,000 acres of undeveloped land from the floodplain; acres Fargo has targeted for construction and the future expansion of Fargo.
The latest distributed storage estimates shout the loudest and strongest argument that Fargo’s plan is arbitrary and outdated. The sustainable solution for flood control is an integrated plan.
1. Stop building in the floodplain.
2. Build dikes and levees to protect properties currently at risk.
3. Minimize the size of structures like diversions and dams.
4. Utilize distributed storage throughout the basin to provide benefits to the local areas as well as the larger area. Water storage potential is a resource of the land just like agriculture or oil. It can be developed and expanded to the benefit of the entire region.