The U.S. House is to consider the funding of President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget request. The request includes $5 million for the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Flood Risk Reduction project.
I would hope Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., and the other representatives consider the following thoughts.The Fargo-Moorhead Metro plan alleges that Fargo could reach flood levels in excess of any previous flood event on record. Historical records assessed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency do not concur with the elevation numbers manipulated by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The current proposal is based on the development of the last natural flood plain next to Fargo under the guise of flood protection. In this process, the plan moves floodwater from the natural flood plain to Richland, N.D., Wilkin, N.D., and properties owned by Cass and Clay county residents.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Cass County Commissioner Darrell Vayno verify this agenda by the claim that the project is about Fargo’s growth.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement also acknowledges the land is targeted for Fargo’s future growth. In other words, a thousand or more people will be forced to relocate to let Fargo build in the flood plain, a fact that violates Executive Order 11988, which bans the use of federal funds for floodplain development.
In addition, the extended impacts to the communities and the farm economy have not been quantified and will increase the project’s costs.
The current Fargo footprint does need additional flood risk reduction.
Fargo has exceeded its buildable limits on non-flood prone land and is in search of federal assistance to foster future development that will increase residual tax burdens on local and federal taxpayers.
Basically, Fargo-Moorhead leaders, the Flood Diversion Board of Authority and the Corps are asking the federal government to fund the growth of Fargo.
The Fargo-Moorhead Metro Flood Risk Reduction Plan, as the environmental impact statement notes, is for the “Fargo metro area” only.
This plan, if approved and funded, jeopardizes the entire region. It puts the Fargo-Moorhead metro area at higher risk of a catastrophic flood because, by building a man-made storage structure, it reduces the water storage in the natural flood plain. Meanwhile, the supposed reduction in flood risk will induce growth in a flood-prone area. As we have seen in Minot and other areas, that can be problematic.
There are solutions for responsible flood risk protection, which can be achieved with a combination of flood risk management techniques. Unfortunately, the Corps has chosen to dismiss most of them due to the funding constraints of the Corps process.
Nevertheless, there is a chance even within the Corps’ constraints to achieve flood risk reduction for areas of Fargo’s current footprint along with the protection of upstream and downstream communities. With the use of the natural flood plain and the implementation of upstream retention on the tributaries, this can be achieved more quickly and economically.
These discussions have been met with outright rejection from the Corps many times without due process and diligence to the taxpayers. Many North Dakotans are asking Berg, who represents all of North Dakota, to use his influence to work for a solution for all of North Dakota, not just Fargo.
For more information visit: www.mndakupstreamcoalition.com