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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Situational Ethics Part 5

Jim Nyhof, Oxbow ND Mayor (on Levee Standards)

Jim Nyhof, Oxbow ND Mayor (on Levee Standards)

There is no question that the 2009 flood was a significant flood event. Having exceeded the FEMA 100 year flood level by 3.56 feet, leaves little question that a hard fought battle was won with hard work, sweat and community spirit. Neighbor helping neighbor, despite their differences.

Proponents of the Fargo Diversion Authority agenda and Fargo’s south-side economic development plan entrenched themselves into a public relations war that pits FEMA flood levels and insurance requirements against a flood protection project that would forever alter the last natural flood plain south of Fargo, ND and foster unprecedented encroachment where flood waters naturally pool.

Winning the flood fight during the 2009 event wasn’t enough for project proponents. They wanted “more” area to grow and the consequences be damned.

Fargo and Cass county knew full well that their actions would impose a negative effect on property owners upstream and downstream, yet their rationale was that someone needed be adversely affected, so it might as well be others outside Fargo’s jurisdictional boundaries. One of the byproducts of this agenda is the postulation that all future floods would continue to increase, despite precipitation records that date back to 1881 suggesting the contrary, therefore the end must justify the means.

With Oxbow having exceeded the 100 year FEMA flood level twice and the 500 year FEMA flood level in 2009 along with all flood prone homes removed from the floodway east of the Oxbow clubhouse, the flood protection constructed 2010-2012 by county and state taxpayers would be adequate to protect the remaining homes.

Yet, in Mr. Nyhof’s July 10th, 2015 Fargo Forum letter to the editor is admits to building permanent levees capable of withstanding a flood similar to 2009 and the same breathe he attempts to downplay the efficacy of that flood protection.

“In Oxbow, flood protection was not measured in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or even FEMA standards; our levees were built to the standard we needed to survive a flood similar to the one we almost lost the entire city to in 2009.”

“…we do not have the typical 3.5 feet of freeboard seen in Fargo and Moorhead on their levees, and there is no certification standard. We just built a dike to the number that gave peace of mind to the 100 homes that remained in Oxbow.”

So…, which is it? There is…, or is not a certification standard? Nearly every time Mr. Nyhof or the Fargo Diversion Authority are questioned about Oxbow’s existing flood protection levees “they” roll out the blustery and misinformation on “certification”.

According to this excerpt from : “Freeboard is not required by NFIP standards, but communities are encouraged to adopt at least a one-foot freeboard to account for the one-foot rise built into the concept of designating a floodway and the encroachment requirements where floodways have not been designated.”


So the very entity that determines whether or not FEMA flood insurance is required…, or not…, appears to contradict all the talking points and hype that Mr. Nyhof and the Fargo Diversion Authority hysterically claim regarding the existing levees in Oxbow, ND.

Truth is…, structures that exist at or above the FEMA 100 year flood level have never required “certification”.

Here is a visual to better understand what is taking place in Oxbow, ND.

100 year Floodplain Example

Click Image for Large View

It appears that the whole “certification” argument has been a sham all along.

Don’t taxpayers deserve to know exactly how few structures were at risk for the millions upon millions being shelled out for home buyouts/relocations and reconstruction of all but 3 holes of the Oxbow golf course?

However, the underlying quandary that exists with overall OHB (Oxbow, Hickson, Bakke) project is that there is no written assurance that FEMA will accept or “certify” the OHB ring levee when it is completed.  As its sole purpose is to allow a community to exist at a greater risk within a man-made reservoir and staging area, several feet under the surrounding water surface elevation of the reservoir pool.

Project Conditions with
Fargo Dam and FM Diversion Completed

100 year water surface elevation 922.29
500 year water surface elevation 922.41

1.44 inches of differential

Rather disappointing that Mr. Nyhof, a person self proclaiming oneself to be credible, honest and effective…, drones on about “levee certification and freeboard”, which FEMA does not require and that may or may not every be achieved as a result of man-made conditions created by the overall Fargo Dam and FM Diversion.

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One Response to “ Situational Ethics Part 5 ”

  1. The question remains did Oxbow need new protection ? See the link to the WSJ story below. It is just mitigation for the FM Diversion, as the Corps said. It is for a project that congress has not funded. Until that funding is in place the Oxbow ring dike is money down a rat hole.
    “Oxbow has since spent $1.6 million to rebuild itself and shore up its flood protection. Nearly a dozen homes were removed from the flood plain.”

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