This time, get flood plans rightOur group was organized in 1998 after Cass County came up with a dike plan that would protect south Fargo from floodwaters, but would cause higher flood levels for neighbors living south of the city.
By: Terry Compson, Michael Pfluth, Richard Freeman, Paul Breen, George Richard, Bonnie Rutten and Donald Smith, INFORUM
Our group was organized in 1998 after Cass County came up with a dike plan that would protect south Fargo from floodwaters, but would cause higher flood levels for neighbors living south of the city.
After much research, we questioned the cubic-feet-per-second water flows used by an engineering firm in estimating the additional flood impact on the wrong side of the dike. We felt 1997 flows were higher than flows used by the engineer. This would cause the impact to be more severe outside the dike area.
The impact was reviewed by other engineering firms, and their results concluded that a higher volume of floodwaters occurred than estimated by the original engineering firm. Cass County turned the project over to Fargo, indicating that the proposed dike would help Fargo, not Cass County, and therefore should be a city project.
Since then, Fargo has come up with various southside plans. All options still run every drop of water through Fargo and will cause higher flood levels outside the diked area. Fargo’s southside options were a bad idea when they were introduced in 1997, still are, and need to be scrapped if they haven’t already been.
There is no question that no one could have done a better job of fighting the 1997 and 2009 floods than Fargo officials and residents. However, as long as all the floodwaters are run through Fargo, we believe it’s just a matter of time before we have a more severe flood that could devastate Fargo and the homes south of Fargo, despite everyone’s best efforts.
In July, a group of citizens, including Ed Schafer, Ron Bergan, Ron Offutt, Steve Scheel, Doug Burgum, Dick Solberg, Bruce Furness and Erv Inniger, wrote a commentary suggesting a split-flow diversion that would divert water from the Wild Rice River west around the city. Another option would run a diversion around Moorhead.
Another opinion, by former Gov. George Sinner, suggested any flood control project include a basinwide approach to protect not only Fargo, but all basin communities. He suggested retention dams should be part of the solution.
Our group has always maintained that retention is part of the solution. We agree a combination of retention and diversion is the best option to protect all of our residents, including, but not limited to, the city of Fargo. Lowering water levels is preferred to levees that would raise flood levels. A control structure should not be gated but designed to work naturally as water levels rise.
We realize this project can’t be done overnight.We can be thankful our forefathers didn’t give up and decide the Traverse Lake project was too difficult or expensive to accomplish. As long it takes, whatever it costs, we must get it right and come up with the best possible solution. Let your officials know that retention and diversion are the kind of flood protection you support. Let the FM Flood Control Steering Committee know you support their efforts.
To learn about our organization, check our Web site at www.
The writers are members of Citizens for Responsible Flood Control.