Diversion IS NOT the Right Way to Secure Area Flood Protection
By Rep. Paul Marquart
I feel compelled to respond to the Oct. 28 Forum editorial regarding my stance on the F -M diversion and stand up for the best interests of my constituents.
I have supported and will continue to support permanent flood protection for this area. However, do not agree that this $2-3 billion project is the best way to provide permanent flood protection. The current diversion project violates Minnesota law, unfairly treats upstream farmers and residents and costs way more than it should.
I strongly supported the Minnesota’s $137 million investment in Moorhead towards removing vulnerable properties from the floodway and building levees to a height of 44 feet. This level of protection is almost 5 feet above FEMA’s current 100 year floodplain level of 39.3 feet and is more than 3 feet higher than the record flood crest of 40.8 feet in 2009.
Here is why we can and need to do better:
Approximately 54 percent of the land removed from flooding in the proposed project is sparsely developed land around Fargo. This project shifts the burden of flooding from a sparsely developed rural area that floods, to other areas that do not. A new plan that focuses permanent flood protection on currently developed areas rather than large areas of undeveloped land in North Dakota would reduce costs and protect the interests of stakeholders upstream.
The proposed diversion project has moved forward with little regard to the fair treatment of farmers and residents upstream. Under existing conditions, the city of Comstock would see no water from a 500-year flood, but by design of the diversion project, Comstock would be under 2-4 feet of water in a 100-year flood. The Diversion Authority fails to identify the necessary funding to provide mitigation to the upstream area.
The Clara Lutheran Cemetery near Comstock, which has never flooded, would be under seven feet of flood water because of the diversion project. World War II veteran Willard Hicks with 567 combat days and two purple hea(ts is buried there. It is wrong for a project to purposely flood a cemetery where decorated veterans are laid to rest in order to protect vacant land in North Dakota that has always flooded.
Despite legitimate concerns from several Clay County governmental entities, the Diversion Authority said it will ignore the necessary approval from these entities for the project.
The Diversion Authority has moved ahead with the diversion project in clear violation of Minnesota law.
As a representative of the state of Minnesota, I cannot support a project which clearly violates state law. I will continue to be a voice for the farmers and residents of rural Minnesota and will not let the state of North Dakota run roughshod over our interests. We need a process that follows the law, treats people fairly and looks at all options to provide permanent flood protection to the area while protecting the livelihood and interests of upstream property owners.
I am committed to finding a plan that achieves these goals.
Marquart, DFl-Dliworth, Represents District 4B in the Minn. House of Representatives.