At the August 26th Moorhead City Council meeting I voiced my opposition to the F/ M Diversion as it is currently designed and proposed. While I do feel the need for a resolution to our problem, I can’t support the current project because of the controversial upstream staging area that would be flooded to hold water during significant water events.
Over the past 19 months I have attended flood tours, listened to hours of diversion discussion at council meetings, and read volumes of diversion documents. I felt I understood the project well enough to make informed votes on the issue. After several weeks of discussion with those who would be impacted, however, I believe I was mistaken.
Through conversations over the past several weeks with those severely impacted by the diversion (those living and/or farming in the staging area) I now realize that I did not know enough and was missing important information. For example: farmers needing to get crops planted by a deadline in order for them to get federal crop insurance; the havoc the held back waters could have on hundreds of septic systems; the potential of redistributed retention as an alternative to one large staging area; and the likely end of multi-generational farmsteads, historic homes and buildings because they lie in the staging area.
Upon connecting directly to and hearing individual personal stories I understand the enormity of the upstream staging area proposal, what it could do to the livelihood, culture, and rich agricultural history in our community. Often personal stories get lost, left out, and forgotten when a project of this magnitude is presented.
As local leaders and policy makers reading about projects and plans that seem to make sense on paper, we cannot forget the personal side and the individual implications of those projects and plans. We need to continue to listen, ask questions and seek out the personal stories to make sure they are heard. Perhaps more importantly, we need to scrutinize our own thoughts and ideas, so that we make sure we are confident we have all the information we need to make informed decisions.
I cannot support the plan for the staging area today, I am optimistic we can resolve many more of the issues, create a better plan that retains our historic rural roots and culture, and all our livelihoods while allowing our community to move forward for generations to come.
(Reprinted with permission of Heidi Durand)