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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Fargo Dam and Diversion Is All About Duplicity

Governors Diversion Task Force - Fargo Dam and Diversion

It should come as no surprise that the Fargo Foolem’ (Forum) coverage (read more…) of the Governors Task Force meeting, held at Minnesota State University Moorhead, on November 29, 2017 is just another version of impotent journalism that falls short of credibility with the regularity of the tik-tok of a clock.

Fargo Dam and FM Diversion proponents have one play and that play is duplicity and variations thereof.

Heidi Durand, Moorhead City Commissioner asked an valid question for clarification.


“What constitutes a new impact? If a property is required to carry flood insurance, how is that a new impact?”

Project proponents immediately circled the wagons and attempted to spin and to deflect Durand’s devastating question. Responses ranged from not everyone has a federally backed loan to properties are at different locations.

After a short 10 minute break Cass County Engineer Jason Benson attempted to address and redirect focus away from Durand’s inquiry. It was almost as if Benson had been been given a coached response claiming that properties, that are currently flood prone, may have a few inches or a foot or two of water are not at the USACE level requiring a buyout – so changes to the project that would exceed the USACE threshold (generally 3 feet) would be considered new impacts.

New impacts…, REALLY ???

Every structure built in flood risk areas since the 2009 flood should not be considered new impacts, which includes the controversial Davies HS and its environs because they built there at “their own peril”. Every pre-existing structure that battled water is not a new impact…, and the USACE claimed only 10 structures would need to be relocated in Proposal 3 (Appendix O). (read more…)

The Fargo Foolem’ framed and sensationalized the impacts rising from 17 to 1,500 (8,747 percent increase) due to excessive flooding. Yet, failed to include that the ring dike around Comstock, MN would be wholly unnecessary and the $109+ million spent on the Oxbow golf course and ring dike would have needed to be significantly smaller, if not also unnecessary.

Is that really the case?

The FMDA (Fargo Moorhead Diversion Authority) and USACE have repeatedly tried to justify the proposed project upon the basis of a $15 billion dollar loss if Fargo doesn’t build the dam and diversion and floods, yet downplays the importance of internal flood protection for the existing city whenever possible.

Ironically, in 2009, Colonel Christensen (USACE) claimed Fargo could achieve 100 year flood protection plus 4 feet at cost benefit ratio of .65 without a Class 1 High Hazard Dam. Yet, proponents persist in their duplicitous game to accomodate Fargo’s future development plan.

Testimony exchanged in May 2009 between Byron L. Dorgan (ND – US Senator & Congressman) and Colonel Christensen (USACE) during a special hearing before a subcommittee of the US Senate – Appropriations Committee helps illustrate the deception.

Excerpt from Special Hearing
Senator DORGAN: I am going to ask Mayor Voxland if he wishes to respond. But Colonel Christensen, would you just tell us when you did the cost-benefit ratios a few moments ago, was that for a 100-year flood or a 500-year flood or some other flood? Tell us what it was you were measuring.
Colonel CHRISTENSEN: I would have to go for a lifeline on that, sir, just to make sure that I am correct, 100 year plus 4 feet.
Senator DORGAN: Pardon me?
Colonel CHRISTENSEN: A 100-year flood plus 4 feet.
Senator DORGAN: Thank you.


Fargo bitches and moans about astronomical flood insurance costs and increasing mandatory flood insurance requirements and has used those statistics as an impact when analyzing costs and benefits. However, these same talking heads refuse to assess that an increase in cost in one area will return a benefit in reduced impacts elsewhere.

One viable alternative that could protect the metro area from significant flooding was discarded upon the duplicitous claim of downstream impacts without conducting a comprehensive study.

Could it have anything to do with the USACE and all engineering proponents being on the payroll of the FMDA which has strong ties to the FM Homebuilders Association and Realtors Associations?

The USACE was blatantly duplicitous when they concealed nearly 17 inches of water impacts that extend all the way to Drayton, ND claiming downstream impacts had addressed. Which is also a primary reason why the GAO has claimed that USACE studies understated costs and overstated benefits, and therefore do not provide a reasonable basis for decision-making.

The FMDA and USACE refers to the current alignment as VE13A.

Potential Downstream Impacts Caused by
Fargo Dam and FM Diversion Flood Protection

All Elevations Reference 1988 NAVD

Gage Location & Number Base
(in feet)
(in feet)
(in feet)
Drayton, ND USGS Gage 05092000 756.178 801.728 803.14 + 16.944 inches
Oslo, MN USGS Gage 05083500 773.769 812.139 813.26 + 13.452 inches
Grand Forks, ND USGS Gage 05082500 780.070 ** 829.930 833.40 + 41.64 inches
Thompson, ND USGS Gage 05070000 780.076 845.256 847.58 + 27.888 inches
Halstad, MN USGS Gage 05064500 827.739 868.479 869.09 + 7.332 inches
** Peak Crest Since Floodwall Completion

So how can the USACE claim downstream impacts have been addressed?

It’s called goal oriented engineering. The USACE arbitrarily and capriciously set the baseline benchmark higher (ignored existing conditions and record crests) to calculate and conceal project impacts, yielding the best possible result for Fargo and the FMDA proposed project. Y’know, the client that is paying the USACE to make things “possible”.

If the Diversion Task Farce is truly unlikely to see consensus ~ it will be due to proponents and their ilk that persist in their circular reasoning and duplicitous statements in favor of the very project permit that was denied by the Minnesota DNR.

The Governors Task Force was intended to explore potential alternatives and compromise rather than Fargo’s attempt to re-litigate the project that received a Prelimary Injunction from US District Court Chief Judge John R. Tunheim in a feigned attempt to coerce the Minnesota DNR to “understand the project”.

Fargo’s development plan disguised as flood control…, is painfully obvious.

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