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Paul Marquart Questions Fargo Diversion Authority

Rep Paul Marquart questions Diversion Authority

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth

The Fargo Forum’s ideological media is unquestionably pro-diversion.

However, the recent malicious editorial towards Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, emphasizes the group-think media that permeates the Fargo side of the debate and their motivation to attack anyone who questions the project.

Oddly, in a failed attempt at rallying public sentiment against Marquart, the Forum may actually have showcased his best attributes.

Which is…, being nothing less than a strong advocate for the people of Minnesota and the people in his district.

Since Marquart’s July 9th, 2014 comments, other respected Minnesota elected officials – Rep. Erin Murphy (Minnesota house majority leader), Senator Kent Eken (Twin Valley) and Representative Ben Lien (Moorhead) have expressed support for Marquart.

Here is the editorial with commentary:

Forum editorial: Marquart wrong on ring dikes
Posted on Jul 16, 2014

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, is one of the best legislators to ever come from northwestern Minnesota. He knows his stuff and usually represents his constituents well. But his newly minted position on the Fargo-Moorhead diversion is a blunder of some consequence. His linking of support for the project to ring dike construction on the North Dakota side of the Red River suggests political pander, not enlightened leadership.


On the contrary, there is no assumed blunder, as the Fargo Forum spitefully proclaims. Rep. Paul Marquart, is engaging in enlightened leadership and not political pander. Rep. Paul Marquart is hearing the concerns on both sides of the issue and taking into consideration the laws of Minnesota.

Rep. Paul Marquart has openly stated his support for Fargo flood control and noted significant impact concerns that Fargo, Cass County and the Fargo Diversion Authority have chosen to ignore.

Forum Editorial Staff: Marquart said last week he would lobby against the project if ring dike construction around Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke – upstream of Fargo-Moorhead – continues. Consider his position. He did not say he might not support the project. He said he would lobby against it. That extreme stance is an overreaction. It indicates he has dismissed the long-term benefits that permanent flood protection will provide for the F-M metro.


The Fargo Forum editorial board is erecting a straw man argument in an attempt to use the Forum’s political platform to pressure Marquart into relinquishing Minnesota property rights, laws and future development to benefit Fargo’s land grab encroachment into the last natural flood plain providing benefit to the metro area.

The Fargo Forum further admits the flood control project is NOT for the region and provides no regional benefit.

Forum Editorial Staff: First, the ring dike project will proceed whether or not the diversion goes ahead. The ring dike work is tangentially related to the larger project but is not dependent on it.


An outright pro-Fargo Diversion Authority prevarication intended to misrepresent the OHB project.

The only reason the ring dike has been considered is a result of the potential impacts cause by the proposed Fargo Dam and FM Diversion. In November 2010, residents of Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke were told that their communities would be sacrificed for Fargo’s benefit and all structures with more than three feet of impact would be bought out.

The lowest existing ground level in the new portion of Oxbow, ND requires a 22.5 foot high levee because it is 10 feet lower than the lowest existing residential property along Schnell drive in Oxbow, ND.

However, the FEMA regulatory flood plain indicates the lowest properties along Schnell drive are only 10.8 inches below the new FEMA regulatory 100 year flood plain.

Forum Editorial Staff: The need for flood protection for those small communities, Oxbow in particular, has been clear for decades. Support there for the dikes is strong, with the exception of a few strident voices that get more attention than they deserve.

The magnitude of the OHB project is wholly unnecessary.

Since the 2009 (350 year flood) at Oxbow, the city obtained permits from the North Dakota state water commission and constructed flood protection for the city. Despite claims by Cass county and Fargo Diversion Authority that Oxbow’s current flood protection is not certified, the flood protection in place exceeds FEMA regulatory 500 year flood elevations.

Roadways in and around the Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke area are not certified levees, however, they provide significant flood protection and “lowers risk zones” associated to properties in the area, just as the current dikes and levees provide protection to properties in Oxbow, ND.

Of the nearly 175 structures in the OHB project area, only 5 homes are required to carry FEMA flood insurance. The remaining properties exists above the FEMA regulatory 100 year flood plain.

Oxbow experienced nearly a FEMA regulatory 350 year flood in 2009 and the communities of Hickson and Bakke have never flooded.

Forum Editorial Staff: Second, diversion doubters, including members of the Moorhead City Council, and now, apparently Marquart, are using completion of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources environmental impact statement on the diversion as a weak hook upon which to hang their reasons for being tentative about the diversion. It’s a ploy. The DNR has conceded it has no jurisdiction over a North Dakota project, and certainly has no veto power over the ring dike work.


The Minnesota DNR has rationally questioned the OHB project and its independent or overall component of the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agrees with the MN DNR assessment that the OHB ring-dike-levee is a part of the overall project and stated that position in the June 18th, 2014 withdrawal of the 404 permit application.

The Minnesota DNR has respected ND state rights by allowing North Dakota to cease construction or prejudice the overall project upon their own accord. Fargo, Cass and the Fargo Diversion Authority have disregarded the MN DNR concerns and in defiance, chosen to not wait for Minnesota DNR to conclude its EIS study.

Forum Editorial Staff: Third, the economic success of Dilworth, Moorhead and cities within the metro’s sphere, such as Barnesville, Minn., and Casselton, N.D., would not be happening without Fargo’s urban vitality and economic growth. A devastating flood in Fargo would cripple not only the city but also outlying communities that depend on Fargo for everything from jobs and medical care to entertainment and education to retailing and transportation. In that obvious regard, permanent flood protection is a regional priority.


The Fargo Forum is using a “bare assertion fallacy” in its low opinion of those cities named (Moorhead, Dilworth, Barnesville and Casselton) and other’s cities outside the metro area.

If Fargo didn’t exist, all areas around Fargo would have thriving main streets. The very goods and services that Fargo’s urban area has usurped over decades at the expense of neighboring cities.

West Fargo has experienced over a 72 percent growth rate over the last decade because people simply would rather not live in Fargo.

Moorhead has ample room that is well above the existing 100 and 500 year FEMA regulatory flood plain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers noted these areas as more easily defended against major flood events than that of Fargo’s expansion plans south of 52nd ave and Davies H.S.

Irrational suggestions that medical services, cultural resources, jobs and shopping would not exist without Fargo is an insult to neighboring economies and innovation. Rather than Fargo leaders being thankful for what Fargo has, they arrogantly imply that it is Fargo’s right to cause economic blight on the main streets of surrounding communities.

Forum Editorial Staff: Marquart’s parochialism is disappointing. He’s sacrificed his once-mature understanding of the larger cross-river community on an altar of myopic political expediency. He ought to rethink it.


On the contrary! Rep. Paul Marquart’s recent comments are a breath of fresh air. He has illustrated that his experience and service to his constituents has formed a rational understanding of the project, MN law and a reasoned approach to a project that provides no benefit – just irreparable damage to Minnesota interests.

As an elected representative of Minnesota, Marquart is looking out for the best interests and future of Minnesotan’s, without prostrating himself before Fargo’s development agenda.

Forum Editorial Staff: Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.


The Jul 16, 2014 Forum editorial represents the abandonment of any journalistic integrity and bias towards anyone questioning the proposed Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project or its officials.

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One Response to “ Paul Marquart Questions Fargo Diversion Authority ”

  1. The MN DNR determined that the start of construction on the OHB ring dike violates MN law. The DNR has rejected Fargo’s shifting arguments and warned the FM Diversion Authority that their actions violate MN Law. Here is an excerpt from the Minnesota DNR’s website:

    “Q: Why has the OHB Levee become an issue for the Minnesota Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

    A: The Diversion Authority, which is the Project proposer and local sponsor, has initiated construction of the OHB Levee, prior to completion of the Minnesota EIS. The DNR has determined that the OHB Levee is part of the Diversion Authority’s larger Project and has notified the Diversion authority of this determination. Since it is part of the larger Project and state environmental review has not yet been completed on the Project, any Minnesota unit of government is prohibited from taking action that leads to final government approval or construction of the OHB Levee until the EIS is complete. Minnesota governmental units sit on the Diversion Authority.”

    Rep. Marquart is defending the laws of Minnesota that protect the rights of his constituents. In doing so he must necessarily run afoul of Fargo’s privately owned newspaper that has, and will, bully any voice that doesn’t toe the Fargo party line. If you haven’t let him know you appreciate the job he is doing – please do so now. His email is:

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