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Duality and Misinformation

Fargo Forum Editorial Board

Duality And Misinformation

In Ancient Egypt scribes were educated in the arts of writing to convey history via hieroglyphics and hieratic script. There was no freedom of speech or expression…, it was at the directives of the elite commanding how the present would be recorded for future generations.

The Fargo Forum scribes are no different. Fargo elite have influenced the overall message to readers on what they should think as opposed to how things actually are.

Ironically, the one thing that could save the Forums dwindling readership is objective journalism…, and they stopped practicing that, on a regular basis, a long time ago. It took decades of ignoring local issues to undermine their credibility and the internet to seal their fate.

The Fargo Forum Editorial Board April 22nd, 2014 article is the essence of duality – a collection of grandiose lies with one thread of truth attempting to tie it all together.

Here is the editorial with commentary:

Forum editorial: Retention alone isn’t adequate
April 22, 2014

Anyone who still clings to the fantasy that retention alone will solve Fargo-Moorhead’s severe flooding problems is in for a sobering dose of reality when confronting the facts. Retention is an important part of comprehensive flood control for the Red River Valley, but it’s no cure-all.


Anyone who clings to the fantasy that the Forum Editorial Board is being objective on retention matters is buying into the fabrications, misinformation and mis-characterizations set forth by Fargo’s elite.

Fact: Retention could have lowered the historical 2009 crest significantly, which is also supported in the Red River Basin Commission Halstad Upstream Retention (HUR). (11.7 mb download)

Biasing expectations for retention to being a “cure-all” is reckless journalism, given the 45 years of natural flood plain destruction it is expected to overcome.

Ironically, the proposed $2 billion+ dam and diversion are not adequate either. The combined flows of the Red River and the Diversion channel fall nearly 12,000 cfs short of the “big one” and as defined in the 2013 EA document, the operation plan is to open the gates and evacuate Fargo if flood forecast flows exceed minimum project free-board.

Forum editorial: That’s glaringly obvious when examining the accomplishments of the Red River Retention Authority, a partnership between North Dakota and Minnesota joining regional water boards on both sides of the river. Formed in 2010, in the aftermath of the record 2009 flood, the authority is supposed to be the driving force in steering retention projects throughout the basin.


It’s a rather cheap shot against the Red River Retention Authority to expect results with meager funding. Over $40 million has been spent by the Fargo Diversion Authority on a plan that refuses to explore retention as a component.

Ironically, the Red River Retention Authority and other agencies now have $500-$600 million in funding available via the Farm Bill. Care to take bets on what engineering firm(s) line up for a payday?

What does the Fargo Diversion Authority have…? A proposed project without congressional approval and little to no chance of funding if the WRRDA bill is passed.

So Fargo has frittered away over $40 million on something that may never happen, rather than focusing on completion of internal flood protections and considering retention components to enhance protection within Fargo’s grasp.

When you have bloviating imbeciles like Ken Pawluck and other Fargo officials blaming farmers for flooding caused by field tiling and then claim that retention won’t work…, exactly “how” can Fargo/Cass expect anyone to take them seriously – when they expect farmers to hold back tiled water? Which is, by its very process, retention of water.

It appears Fargo leaders would rather have 100 percent of nothing rather than a combined solution of something.

Forum editorial: Supposed to be. As recently reported, after almost four years, the authority has yet to draft even an official slate of projects it backs to meet the ambitious goal of reducing severe flood flows on the Red by 20 percent. The authority has little to show beyond platitudes. Its leaders have yet to demonstrate that they have the will and the ability to get the job done. The key problem, as the backlash to the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion amply demonstrates, is that landowners balk at holding water on their land.


There is no reasonable evidence to suggest that landowners balk at holding water on their land…, they simply balk at letting Fargo force its displaced waters onto areas outside their jurisdictional boundaries without compensation or representation.

Fargo and Cass leaders must also demonstrate that they have the will and the ability to consider retention as a long term component to Fargo’s flooding issues or their own ignorance will be their undoing.

Forum editorial: Meeting that 20 percent Red River flood crest reduction goal through systematic retention would help in managing severe floods, but it would take many years – probably decades – to achieve, leaving Fargo-Moorhead vulnerable in the meantime. The much ballyhooed Maple River Dam, with a capacity of 60,000 acre-feet, was talked about for several decades, and it took 10 years to secure the permit for the $30 million project.


Woe, is me…, always the same plea… It willl take too long and “Fargo” will be vulnerable in the meantime.

Well it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the city is vulnerable…, then focus on the internal flood protection and stop displacing water from the flood plain, which is creating most if not all of Fargo’s immediate flood risk.

Where were these flood experts for the last 45 years? Encroachment into the natural flood plain has raised peak flood crests 25-30 inches and Fargo has done “squat” in addressing those impacts. That one fundamental fact seems to elude Fargo Forum journalists and cloud their objectivity toward retention projects to offset risks created by Fargo development south of I-94.

Forum editorial: That’s large for a retention project in the Red River Valley, but massive tracts of land would be required to hold enough water to meet the 20 percent reduction goal. A study for the Red River Basin Commission, paid for by the Flood Diversion Authority, has identified about 96 potential sites that could hold enough water – about 506,000 acre-feet, pooled over a cumulative 108,000 acres, or 169 square miles.


So which is truly a better use of tax dollars…?

Spending $2 billion+ on a proposed Fargo Dam and Diversion project that creates impacts upstream and lowers efficacy of downstream flood protections to protect roughly 71 square miles.


Completing internal Fargo flood walls, dikes and levees while pursuing retention as a component to augment flood protection for Fargo, reducing or eliminating downstream impacts and providing flood protection benefits to the 14,000 square miles upstream of Halstad, MN and 6,800 square mile upstream of Fargo, ND?

Forum editorial: Assuming landowners would go along, and that much land could be made available for retention – a big “if” – the price tag would be steep, an estimated $1.16 billion, which assumes an average cost of $2,000 per acre-foot of storage, the standard rate. But “distributed retention” is complicated; the storage sites must be in the right spots for a particular flood.


Generally speaking, people are more aware of flooding and water issues in the Red River Valley than they were just 5 years ago.

To characterize willingness as a “big if” is nothing more than a pervasive pattern of self-defeating speculation.

Fargo/Cass has to get over its “imperial” self-centered mentality and realize that they are not the only entity in the Red River Valley that can benefit from “distributed retention”.

What Fargo/Cass leaders are too ignorant to comprehend is that continued development and encroachment into the natural flood plain will only worsen flooding for the metro area without retention projects.

Forum editorial: And those upstream retention sites are primarily located in Richland and Wilkin counties, the hotbed of diversion opposition. Retention sounds good, and is easy to tout as a magical solution, but is no substitute for the diversion.


The last line is perhaps the most fallacious statement of all from the Forum Editorial board.

If retention doesn’t work, then there would be no need for dams or no postulations to hold back agricultural drain tiling waters.

If Fargo were truly building a diversion…, there would be no staging and storage component.

Fact is, the Fargo Dam and Diversion are not the right project for Fargo or the region.

The sooner local leaders come to grips with that reality, progress can be made, solutions defined and actions taken.

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2 Responses to “ Duality and Misinformation ”

  1. This is nothing new to me. I used to write a letters to the editor once in a while. Always pointing out the benefits of retention and spending the same or less money to benefit the entire basin, not just Fargo. I did get several printed. Almost had a following in that I have had many ask why am I not still writing letters. The answer. The editor, Jack Zaleski, has banned my letters. I have about 4 in the hopper. But I would guess the hopper i speak of is more like waist basket or a shredder. I now know what “bully pulpit” means. I have been to several meetings where the talking head of Moore Engineering has said the notion of retention only works if it is right above the target. So why then do they ignore requests to move the staging area north, to the lowest natural low area? Oh, yes, because the want to develop a swamp.

    I have been to many meetings where the USACoE has stated, they can not do a project solely for the purpose of development. A few wordsmiths later, the diversion authority (authority does not always mean wise) is talking about future development.

    The diversion authority claims retention inadequate?

    The Maple River Dam was built for just under 30 million. Divide 2 billion by 30 million. It would seem you could build 66 Maple River Dam’s for same dollars as the diversion (provided the price tag is 2 billion).

    The Maple River Dam holds back 60,000 acre feet.

    66 of them could hold back 3,960,000 acre feet. And since the Diversion only helps Fargo, lets keep this nearly 4 million acre feet of retention above Fargo for arguments sake. 4 million acre feet of retention will not help Fargo? Of course it would.

    Lastly, someone can figure this out for me. How long would it take for Fargo to fill in the area protected by the diversion. At some point, 30 years or so, wont the area inside the Denny’s Big Ditch be developed? What then? Ask the Feds for 2 trillion to move the diversion further south and west? Is it not smarter, all the way around, to retain water. Slow its trek to the Red instead of all the projects that have been completed to rush the water to the Red which is the cause of our man made flooding. Wont this help everyone and not set boundaries that will absolutely stop Fargo’s development totally in a few decades?

  2. Terry, I have several in the forum communications pipeline as well. They are not printed unless they are pro diversion. My latest one is that the flood plain in Fargo cannot be raised by 2′ without raising it clear to Canada.. The same wave that the Diversion causes would go to Canada, and would erase the flood insurance protections of Grand Forks..

    This was met by the sound of crickets.

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