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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Part 5: Exposing Fargo Moorhead (FMDA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Money Laundering

Continued from:
Part 1 – Exposing the FMDA and USACE
Part 2 – Exposing the FMDA and USACE
Part 3 – Exposing the FMDA and USACE
Part 4 – Exposing the FMDA and USACE

The Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project has struggled for years to attain the legitimacy needed to “become” anything more than a land grab development project disguised as flood control.

Keep in mind, this is the fourth rendition of a cobbled together development plan which seems to change its outward appearance for promotion rather than practicality. One could argue that if Fargo had some legal process that could annex land in Minnesota, they would expand eastward.

Southside Flood Control

Diversion (MN Alignment)

Diversion (ND Alignment)

3 Dams and Diversion (ND Alignment)

On August 19, 2002, Fargo attempted to annex 2,359 acres of land within Barnes township that ultimately went to West Fargo and then on January 20, 2003 made an attempt to annex all of sections 5 and 6 in Stanley Township that ultimately became Horace, ND.

Fargo has obsessed over a land grab for over 15 years and the present boondoggle that is the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project is just another iteration of Fargo abusing the process and “home rule of charter” to relocate water from the flood plain that has flooded during every significant flood for the purposes of expansion.

In August 2004 the FMUS (Fargo-Moorhead and Upstream Feasibility Study) (read more…) was conducted – purportedly to look for ways to reduce flood stages and restore aquatic ecosystems in the Red River Basin upstream (south) of Fargo-Moorhead. The study concluded that 400,000 acre feet of distributed retention and $400 million price tag had the potential to reduce the 100-year flood elevations in Fargo-Moorhead by as much as 1.6 feet (19.2 inches) (read more…).

Bear in mind…, these are supposed to be the best engineering minds conducting a thorough and honest analysis of the existing condition to identify a credible benchmark. Page 7 of the FMUS report (read more…) clearly indicates the 100 year flood existing conditions benchmark to be 902.4 feet. The 2009 flood exceeded that threshold by over 14 inches.

Fargo Was Boxed In

Rational and ethical leaders would have completed internal protection for the existing city as quickly and possible, then evaluated what additional measures would be needed…, if any.

Greed Persisted ~ Fargo continued with their obsession with developing the natural flood plain, on the taxpayer dime, immediately upstream of the Fargo for development and city officials knew the cost to encroach into low laying floodplain is high.

Fargo, despite having rolled out its a Tier 1 and Tier 2 development plan (read more…) as justification for future encroachment into the last natural floodplain upstream of Fargo, the cost vs benefit still failed and was deemed NOT acceptable for Federal funding.

Special Hearing – May 27, 2009 – Fargo, ND
Committee on Appropriations – US Senate
Excerpt from Special Hearing
Senator CONRAD: With respect to a diversion, your initial indication is that that would have a cost-benefit ratio of 0.65. The combination would be 0.62. Both of those would be far below any cost-benefit ratio that would be acceptable for Federal funding. Isn’t that correct?
Colonel CHRISTENSEN: Yes, sir.


There was no “FEDERAL” project.

The plan failed on the economics and moving Fargo’s flood problems onto other was not justified.

Special Hearing – May 27, 2009 – Fargo, ND
Committee on Appropriations – US Senate
Excerpt from Special Hearing
Senator Dorgan: This subcommittee is the place where the Corps of Engineers water programs are funded, but it is not top-down. It is instead bottom up. That is, the Federal Government does not move around the country trying to determine where we can build additional flood control projects.


Sounds a lot like “…not our circus, not our monkeys…”.

More evidence this wasn’t a “federal project” from the beginning.

Special Hearing – May 27, 2009 – Fargo, ND
Committee on Appropriations – US Senate
Excerpt from Special Hearing
Fargo Mayor
Dennis Walaker
But we need these people here. I mean, they rotate these guys like General Walsh and Colonel Christensen every 3 years. Is that going to be a showstopper? I mean, we brought these people here.


Hmmm…, Fargo’s circus, Fargo’s monkeys…?

Special Hearing – May 27, 2009 – Fargo, ND
Committee on Appropriations – US Senate
Excerpt from Special Hearing
Colonel Christensen
The Corps of Engineers initiated the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Feasibility Study at the request of the city of Fargo, North Dakota, and the city of Moorhead, Minnesota, in September 2008.


Complicity ~ Fargo and the USACE changed the appearance of the project with the EOE (Expert Opinion Elicitation) to pump up the failed cost/benefit ratio by claiming “not-yet-built” city as an asset to cook the books for economic benefit as a way sell the concept to lawmakers in Washington. Seemingly overnight, the proposed project went from a locally funded viable basin-wide retention and internal diking for the existing city to an overstated project need based upon Fargo’s plan for 50 years of development into the last natural flood plain protecting the metro area.

The USACE rushed off with “select” FMDA members to meet with the Civil Works Review Board (read more…) and make lofty claims of a positive benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.76, that was ginned up out of thin air. Project opponents, that were intentionally excluded, could have raised questions of why upstream impacts to communities, ag-land and water easements had been understated or completely ignored and the benefits were overstated.


The USACE continued with its disingenuous narratives to support Fargo’s project, while Fargo continued to twist lawmakers arms in Bismarck to give the appearance of state-wide approval and solid funding for a project that had not been ratified by the property owners it purportedly protected.


On June 10, 2014 former president Obama signed WRRDA 2014 (read more…) (Water Resources Reform and Development Act) into law.

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp and U.S. Senator John Hoeven played instrumental roles getting the FMDA (Fargo Moorhead Diversion Authority) included into the wording of Flood Risk Management section of WRRDA 2014.

WRRDA 2014 was so stuffed full of pet projects that of the 514 votes cast between the house and senate, only 11 dissented (read more…). It’s not like the entire U.S. Congress took a hard look at the FMDA project and considered it worthy. It was included at the behest of Heitkamp and Hoeven to pander to voting constituents in Fargo, ND – of which a large contingent are NOT supporters of the proposed FMDA project. They are people that simply want flood control and gullible enough to believe the falsehoods being spread by the talking heads and FMDA propaganda machine.

Okay…, the FMDA project is authorized by congress along with 8 other Flood Risk Management projects in WRRDA 2014.


Why…? Because, to date, there has been NO FEDERAL APPROPRIATIONS for the FMDA project.

Of course, that didn’t stop the FMDA and USACE from traveling to Omaha on June 18th, 2014 with a premeditated scheme to circumvent Section 404(b)(1) Evaluation (read more…) and withdraw the 404 permit application (read more…) preventing public input to commence ring dike-levee construction at Oxbow, ND (read more…).

However, the timeline of events was very curious.

June 10, 2014 Obama signs WRRDA 2014 into law.
June 17, 2014 Riley Brothers Construction Inc. was given “limited notice to proceed” (read more…) on Oxbow, ND.
June 18, 2014 Fargo Diversion Authority withdrew their 404 permit application
June 20, 2014 Riley Brothers Construction Inc. was given “notice to proceed” (read more…) on Oxbow, ND shortly after the Fargo Diversion Authority filed a motion in an attempt to thwart the Richland Wilkin JPA from filing an injunction to stop the very work being authorized before the Minnesota DNR has had adequate time to complete their state EIS.


As of July 31, 2017 contracts and receipts for Oxbow, ND stand at $107 million plus, which is less than half done and there has been no federal (congressional) funding appropriated for the Oxbow, ND or the overall FMDA project.


On September 2, 2015 the FMDA and USACE significantly changed the project included in WRRDA 2014 unanimously approving a split delivery model in pursuit of Public-Private Partnership (P3) funding increasing the local and state share of the proposed project by $400 million.

On July 11, 2016 the Mayors of Fargo and Moorhead, the Chair of the Flood Diversion Board of Authority, and the Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Lowry Crook today signed a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) for the FM Area Diversion Project.

Despite a July 8, 2017 letter from the MN DNR (read more…) outlining issues with the PPA – Moorhead, MN Mayor Del Rae Williams should not have been at the table signing the PPA without the Minnesota DNR, Minnesota legislature or Minnesota Attorney General giving permission to do so. In essence, Mayor Del Rae Williams attempted to speak on behalf of the entire state of Minnesota creating a legal and financial encumbrance ~ she needs to be held accountable.


There has been NO FEDERAL APPROPRIATIONS for the proposed FMDA project.

Less than 4 days after the PPA was signed Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton reached out to the Office of Management and Budget (read more…) in Washington, DC to convey concerns over the PPA signing.

On September 1st, 2016 Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton reached out again (read more…) to the Office of Management and Budget and Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Dept of the Army to express concerns over unresolved issues pertaining to the FMDA project and USACE actions, specifying Lieutenant General Semonite’s promotional tour was not factually accurate. The letter was CC’d to the USACE, Mayor Tim Mahoney, Mayor Del Rae Williams, Darrell Vanyo – FMDA and to US Senator Amy Klobuchar, US Senator Al Franken and US Congressman Collin Peterson. There was no question or ambiguity on the stance of Minnesota.

Bizarrely, 12 days later, the FMDA cuts a check to the USACE for $45 million to quasi-launder money (read more…) for construction on the inlet structure, under the auspices of split delivery to create the false impression that federal dollars exist to enhance the FMDA bid for P3 funding.

This is the FMDA placing funds with the USACE who then layers the funds to contractors and integrates those funds back into the FMDA project as though they were federal funds.

The question of legality comes into play when the USACE and FMDA colluded and conveyed to Office of Management and Budget and Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Dept of the Army that everything was hunky dory with Minnesota, obtained the PPA, exchanged funds with the intent to initiate construction without permits from Minnesota.

So…, despite all the bloviations, rhetoric and misrepresentations from the FMDA, USACE and their attorneys…


There has been NO FEDERAL APPROPRIATIONS for the proposed FMDA project.

Should Aaron Snyder, USACE, Chief Project Manager Fargo Diversion and others to be updating résumés?

More to come in Part 6.

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One Response to “ Part 5: Exposing Fargo Moorhead (FMDA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) ”

  1. “The other way is to get it on the corps’ to-do list, making it eligible for the corps’ discretionary fund. The latter is what’s now happening with the diversion, which is not in the FY 2016 budget but is being paid out of the discretionary fund.”
    This is not federal funding only taking 45 million and giving back 5 million. Such a deal!!

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