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Published July 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

Split diversion concept must stand up to rigorous scrutiny

I applaud the efforts of the eight prominent members of our community who seek to find a solution to the problem of recurrent flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Certainly flood diversion is a topic for the resolution of this very important problem.

By: Charles Koski , Fargo

I applaud the efforts of the eight prominent members of our community who seek to find a solution to the problem of recurrent flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Certainly flood diversion is a topic for the resolution of this very important problem.

Two articles in the July 14 issue of The Forum addressed their concept. Former Gov. Ed Schafer had addressed the Stanley Township board in regard to the benefits of the concept of a westside diversion and also an op-ed written by the members of that westside diversion group requested consideration of the concept of a westside diversion. As reported in the presentation to the Stanley Township board, Schafer was quoted as locating the upstream origin of the diversion to be at the Wild Rice River west of Interstate 29. The terminus would be north of Argusville.

As I read the articles, I was concerned about the science supporting this concept. It would seem to me that the majority of the floodwater comes from sources other than the North Dakota Wild Rice River. What are the estimates of the hydrologists as to the contribution of the Wild Rice River to the flood stages in the Fargo-Moorhead area? Would the diversion from the Wild Rice River significantly reduce the river levels in a 100-year flood, a 150-year flood or even a 500-year flood? What is the influence of the proposed diversion upon other major sources of flowage such as the Antelope Creek drainage, the Ottertail River drainage, the Bois de Sioux drainage? What would be the effect of the proposed westside diversion upon the flooding in areas above and below the junction of the Wild Rice and the Red River?

In the presentation given to the Stanley Township Board, Schafer stated that the eastern (Minnesota) diversion required a 500-foot-wide channel. As I recall the presentation by the Corps of Engineers, there was a requirement for a 2,000-foot easement for the eastern diversion. What would be the requirements for size of the westside split diversion channel and easement? What would be the capacity of the diversion to handle the excess floodwater?

As I see this proposal, it is still in the concept stage. It would seem that critical details of this concept need to be defined and refined before the citizens of this region give their endorsement to this plan. There is a long way from the concept to a working model.

I suggest to the proponents that they present the science and engineering data that supports their position to the public for their consideration of the west side split diversion. I also suggest that this concept be coordinated with the appropriate regional governmental agencies who have not only initiated the work for flood protection, but also have the existing resources to analyze this concept and are able to confirm that it is supported by valid scientific and engineering principles.

Furthermore, I suggest that the data be presented to the public in a forum as Fargo has done with the Southside Flood Protection Plan.

The diversion concept looks good on its first presentation, but it does need to stand up under a rigorous scrutiny. I would sincerely hope that the committee has spawned a concept that can be converted into a plan of action, but let us first be assured that it has a favorable cost-benefit ratio and it will function as advertised.


Koski, Fargo, is a riverfront property owner.

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