What do the Fargo Diversion Authority and Juan Ponce de León have in common…?
For Ponce de León, it was the legendary “fountain of youth”, for Fargo it is the magical flood waters that somehow disappear in little over 3 miles between the confluence of the Wild Rice – Red Rivers and the Lower Wild Rice and Red River cemetery (LWRRRC).
Located roughly 1500 feet south of the Cass 16 and Hwy 81 intersection…, it is…, the proverbial “fountain of youth” for Fargo’s development plan south of Davies H.S. and other areas south of 52nd ave.
Here are the known facts.
• FEMA’s most recent Cass County Flood Insurance Study number 38017CV000A
released July 27, 2012 indicates a 100 year flood base elevation (BFE) between
912.1′-912.3′ at 912.2 feet at the LWRRRC location.
• FEMA is the single federal agency that gives final determination on flood risk
zones relating to flood insurance ratings.
• Photographs and LIDAR elevations indicate a peak crest a the LWRRRC
being 913.4 feet.
• Historical flood CFS discharge records and the Feb 2013 USACE “White Paper””
indicate Oxbow, further upstream, exceeded the FEMA 500 year flood level in 2009.
• Fargo’s Diversion Project Management Firm, CH2M HILL independently confirmed
the 2009 peak elevation at the LWRRRC being 913.4 feet.
• Based on FEMA’s most recent study, water exceeded the 100 year flood BFE
by 1.2 feet (14.4 inches). Upon further analysis, the 2009 peak flood at the LWRRRC
was approximately a 350 year flood event.
So how does a historical 350 year flood magically disappear in approximately 3 miles only to emerge as a downgraded 50 year flood?
This is done with the legendary EOE (Expert Opinion Elicitation) study.
Fargo Diversion Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) devised a way to mislead the public and lawmakers into believing the 2009 peak was only a 50 year flood.
The fundamental question is “WHY” was the EOE done?
In short the EOE, which is a non-official scientific theory postulated by a handful of handpicked scientists, to explore a worst case flood scenario with criteria prejudiced toward the proposed FMM project. The USACE needed higher numbers in order to overstate potential flood conditions to hide downstream impacts created by the project and to effectively increase the projects cost benefit ratio. So on September 28-29, 2009 the USACE assembled participants in St Paul to conduct the EOE study, which included six experts chosen by the St. Paul District to serve on the expert panel, five invited observers with specialized knowledge, and staff of the USACE St. Paul District.
Rather odd that in just two days, scientists handpicked by the USACE can thoroughly evaluate the Red River Valley natural flood plains, when FEMA has be determining the existing flood plains for decades. Even more suspect is the lack of any mention of encroachment impacts that have displaced in excess of 25 inches of more flood water from those natural flood plains directly affecting the Fargo, ND river gage.
How can any intelligent person accept that the EOE science is sound when a future unproven condition does not factor in a known historical proven condition exacerbated by natural flood plain encroachment?
Let’s move onto the cost benefit ratio.
|Excerpt: Page 41 USACE – September 2011 FEIS
220.127.116.11.1 The initial diversion concept presented in May 2009 was a passive diversion channel without an operable river control structure; this concept was not economically justified with a benefit to cost ratio of approximately 0.65. All of the subsequent diversion concepts included a river control structure that dramatically improved performance with a modest increase in cost. Therefore, no diversion alternatives lacking a control structure were carried forward.
Ironically, there wasn’t an EOE included in the original Scoping Document or Alternatives Screening Document. However, when the projects cost benefit ratio ( .65 ) failed to meet the general threshold needed for congressional consideration, the USACE and Fargo Diversion Authority scrambled to find a way overstate future conditions and achieve a higher cost benefit ratio to shill the project into the WRDA bill in Washington, DC. Hence the pursuit of an EOE study to try and justify the project on paper.
|History of the “Moving” FMM Cost Benefit Ratio|
|May 2009 Initial Cost Benefit Ratio||.65|
|Dec 2009 PRE EOE Cost Benefit Ratio||.95|
|May 2010 POST EOE Cost Benefit Ratio||2.26|
|Jun 2013 VE13A Alignment Cost Benefit Ratio||1.5|
Had the EOE not been done, the project would had died because the initial cost benefit ratio was insufficient.
Rather interesting that the USACE and Fargo Diversion Authority need the project located as far south as possible, with a Class 1 High Hazard dam, pumped up with non-official EOE hydrology to maintain any chance of federal funding. The EOE study, in its entirety, is an ipse dixit.
Just food for thought…, what gives the USACE or Fargo Diversion Authority the right to over-reach and edict non-official EOE numbers, that places more areas of Fargo and the Red River Valley under the threat of flood insurance requirements, as the new benchmark from this point forward?
So let’s get back to the LWRRRC. It is a fixed point upstream of Fargo where Fargo’s Diversion Project Management Firm, CH2M HILL did a rare thing and shared requested information, which can be independently vetted with pictures and LIDAR elevations.
The historic crest of 2009 reached 913.4 feet, which exceeded the FEMA 100 year event by 14.4 inches, making it a 350 year flood event.
Ironically, the USACE “White Paper”, released February 2013, indicated that Oxbow, ND experienced a 350+ year flood in 2009 by exceeding FEMA’s 500 year flood discharge of 21,818 CFS.
So how does 300 years of a 350 year flood magically disappear…?
Sadly, the secret to Fargo’s Magic Water isn’t that mysterious.
In a nutshell –
“Just add water…, mix in a lil’ hype and spook people with rising flood insurance.”
Ponce de León would be proud! Fargo found a way to make their own “Magic Water”