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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Letter: Retention an Important Flood Control Component

Red River Valley Retention Authority co-chairmen John Finney and Gary Thompson touch on the importance of retention, which would benefit the entire Red River Valley economy.

Red River Retention Authority

The Fargo Diversion Authority and the pro-diversion ilk downplay the benefits of basin-wide retention. Benefits that are necessary to offset Fargo’s encroachment into the last natural flood plain south of the city which has increased Fargo’s flood crest over 25 inches since 1969.

Retention benefits:

• Retention provides cumulative and immediate benefit as it’s built.

• 20 percent reduction on the Bois De Sioux, Wild Rice and Maple-Rush watersheds
  would provide approximately 350,000 acre feet of retention.

• 20 percent reduction basin-wide would provide nearly 560,000 acre feet of retention.

• 105 of the past 117 years would not have required temporary construction
  of a 2nd street dike.

• 114 of the past 117 years would not have required protection over 37 feet.

• 70 of the past 117 years would not have exceeded 18 ft minimum flood stage.

• Combining retention to any other flood protection plan increases the benefit.

Such combinations could include retention plus completion of internal flood protection, which addresses most impacts caused by flood plain encroachment.

Another option would be to add one foot of retention capacity to the existing natural flood plain, which could provide Fargo with nearly all needed flood protection at a considerably lower cost than the present $2+ billion boondoggle which has little chance of federal funding in the present economy.

Fargo’s best option: Remove high hazard dam structures and combine internal protection, preserve the natural flood plain, add one foot of additional capacity to natural flood plain and utilize a sensible diversion channel.

If you would like to learn more about retention benefits and how to protect the entire Red River Valley economy, join us at the MNDak Upstream Coalition Fundraiser April 5th, 2014 in Comstock, MN.

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Here is John and Gary’s letter, it’s worth the read:

Retention an Important Flood Control Component

With spring just around the corner, once again there is concern about flooding in the Red River Basin. What can we do to reduce flood damage? Upstream water retention projects are one component of the overall strategy to provide flood protection for everyone in the basin.

Upstream retention not only reduces flooding on the Red River but also provides local benefits, including improved drainage, less damage to the local infrastructure and natural resource enhancement.

Water managers on both sides of the Red River have been using a variety of technological tools to help locate, design and build retention projects. New hydraulic and hydrologic models, combined with imagery and mapping initiatives such as LIDAR help water managers to make educated decisions as how to make the best use of limited dollars and land availability.

In accordance with the 2014 farm bill, plans are to apply for the Red River Basin to be designated as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas eligible for federal assistance to develop and construct retention projects. These new funds, leveraged with state, regional and local monies will certainly accelerate the ability to move forward with projects now and in the near future.

The joint water management groups in both states have adopted a goal of 20 percent peak flood flow reduction at the Canadian border. Farm bill funding will help us reach that goal.

However, retention projects do not magically appear on the landscape. Each and every one of them requires input from local landowners, farmers, water managers, township and county officials, city councils and conservationists. We all need to work together to find the best solution.

We have to find the land where we can construct retention projects. Public land may be available in some cases, but most will have to come from the private sector.

The Red River Retention Authority invites the public to take a tour of an established impoundment area and talk with people affected by its construction.

The goal of local water managers is to reduce the damage caused by flooding in the Red River Basin. All of the water management organizations in the two states are grass-roots, bottom-up type of organizations. Do not hesitate to contact your local water management boards with any suggestions or comments.

John Finney, Humbolt, Minn., and Gary Thompson, Mayville, N.D.

Co-chairmen – Red River Valley Retention Authority.

 

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2 Responses to “ Letter: Retention an Important Flood Control Component ”

  1. Gary and john’s letter as well as the above bullet points are extremely common sense factoids about flooding in the valley.

    I have watched this closely (diversion discussions) from the begining. some of my thoughts that mirror and add to the above:

    * The diversion will end up costing way north of the 2 billion they tout.

    * Who will pay the excess, if indeed they get the fed money they seek?

    * Some estimates of the infrastructure changes not included in the 2 billion dollar guest-a-mate add up to north of 3 billion total when you include raising the interstate, moving rivers or going around through over and under rivers…….this excess would have to go onto local tax bills. That’s a lot of money.

    * It seems Fargo is bound and determined to develop in a swamp, the lowest part of the target area, that could hold 80,000 acre feet of water, if it were used as the staging point instead of the area they purposed. their purposed staging area has never flooded. i have been told numerous times by one of the principals of the two firms that joined together for this effort that the most efficient place to hold water is closest to area you are protecting. But he doesn’t seem to want to talk about moving the holding area north, to the lowest area that will naturally hold the most water, and as he said in the past, be the most efficient.

    * You could build about 40 maple river dams for the cost of this diversion, maybe more. That would quell the wildest flood. It would more than meet the 20% main stem reduction, and add local benefits up and down the basin.

    * Retention is not as sexy as a big dam/diversion. But it would help the basin, not just a small area. Diversion is the low hanging fruit for the engineering firm(s) and this fruit is full of cash for them.

    * Money and the making of it has driven this project, much more so than common sense solutions.

    * The two major engineering firms have joined together and seem to get the lions share of the work for the diversion. They don’t bid against each other on this project any longer. They just get the job and send the bill. Nice work if you can get it.

    * Fargo is growing fast. If they set their foot print, if they draw their line in the sand, or their border in dirt and clay on the south and west side of town with the diversion channel…..where will the city grow after they fill this area up in 20 years? they are land locking themselves down the road. They have never addressed that issue.

    If they joined us and worked on improving the entire basin, would that not bode better 20 years down the road for Fargo?? C’mon Fargo, join your neighbors by being a good neighbor.

    My letters to the editor in the Fargo forum have not been printed since I started to write letters making the above points.

    It doesn’t take a mensa meeting to figure out the Forum and its editor are pro diversion. But, they are a private paper. They own the bully pulpit. They can print whom ever they want too.

  2. Look around the area today. You see no flooding. That is “somewhat” what it would look like if we really got on with retention plans. Holding the water up a bit, letting it go in an orderly fashion in amounts the red river and its tributaries can handle.

    Now, go find a bunch of of wild flood pictures. Thats what it will look like north and south of Fargo if the dam and diversion are built.

    Its a short book with big letters. We have been handling this flooding completely wrong for about 50 years. The only projects that have been built rush the water to the Red. If it used to get there in three weeks, we get it there now in three days.

    We need to slow the water. Hold the water for a few days. Allow the rivers and tributaries to take the water away in an orderly fashion.

    As Peter Morici says…..its really not that complicated.

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