Consider impact of Red River diversionFormer North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, with support of other notable Fargo residents, has proposed a solution to Fargo’s flooding problems. They propose that a diversion be built that would take floodwater around Fargo, through North Dakota farmland and redeposit the floodwater back in the Red River somewhere north of town.
By: Steve Jacobson, Hendrum, Minn.,
Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, with support of other notable Fargo residents, has proposed a solution to Fargo’s flooding problems. They propose that a diversion be built that would take floodwater around Fargo, through North Dakota farmland and redeposit the floodwater back in the Red River somewhere north of town. This is the second diversion proposal that has been aired. The first trial balloon diversion proposal had the diversion channel run through Minnesota and redeposit the floodwater near Georgetown, Minn.
A casual observer would think, given these billion-dollar diversion proposals that take floodwater around Fargo-Moorhead and send it elsewhere, that Fargo must be the only place that has a serious flood problem.
It is widely believed, with credible support, that diversions can have an adverse effect on the area adjacent to and near the outlet of a diversion. The coalition of diversion supporters makes no mention of possible downstream impacts of a diversion channel. They only speak of how good this would be for Fargo-Moorhead.
Flooding affects thousands of people up and down the Red River Valley. It is frustrating for those of us north of Fargo-Moorhead to hear proposals that divert floodwater to us. What happened to the concept of a comprehensive approach to flood damage reduction? Are there no solutions that would benefit us all, and not just the people of Fargo-Moorhead?
All sorts of bad things happen during a flood. Roads are destroyed time and again. Bridges are destroyed. Utilities and all kinds of infrastructure are ruined. Perhaps the most sinister of all is what flooding does to the valley farmland. The swift current of the flooding Red does extensive sheet erosion to our valuable Red River Valley farmland. Topsoil is lost that can never be replaced. A billion-dollar diversion channel around Fargo-Moorhead does nothing to address these problems.
It is unacceptable to me that a billion dollars of taxpayer money be spent on a flood damage reduction project that benefits some at the expense of others. A billion dollars could build a lot of water retention projects. Water retention projects can be environmentally friendly and benefit the entire Red River basin. If we move aggressively enough, on multiple retention projects, we can get a handle on this flooding.
Dikes, levees and diversions have their place. They are local solutions for local problems. If we are going to spend a billion dollars of taxpayer money on flood damage reduction, let’s build a project that benefits everyone.
Jacobsen is a Norman County commissioner.