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Forum editorial: Good news for Oxbow ring dike

Despite a nuisance lawsuit, earth work was started this week on a ring dike to protect Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke in North Dakota from waters that might be backed up when the Fargo-Moorhead diversion is operational. Moreover, those communities, Oxbow in particular, will be protected from major flooding whether or not the diversion is built. In that regard, it’s a stretch to try to make the case that the ring dike is an integral element of the diversion. Yet, diversion opponents keep trying.

To their credit, the majority of Oxbow’s leaders and residents pushed hard for the ring dike. When completed, the protection will guarantee the city south of Fargo will not have to deal with eroding property values, skyrocketing flood insurance premiums, inundated roads and the disruptions that come with high water.

Opponents of the diversion have seized upon the ring dike work in their effort – unsuccessful thus far – to stop the larger regional flood protection project. Even the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources concedes it has no jurisdiction in North Dakota, but the agency is pressing on with a “study,” and is still making noises as if the DNR had jurisdiction.

In one of two lawsuits, opponents hope to secure an injunction to stop ring dike construction. If they should be successful, project supporters should demand – and get – a hefty bond from them to cover expenses of idling equipment while a judge decides if a temporary injunction should be made permanent. After all, those filing for an injunction should be accountable for the fallout.

Opponents of the diversion have said repeatedly they don’t want to stop the project, merely modify it. As sensible as that sounds, their actions contradict their rhetoric. Everything they have done to date is aimed at scuttling the diversion, thus putting the lie to their “modify” talk. And every time the Diversion Authority proposed changes to accommodate some of the opponents’ legitimate concerns, the hand of cooperation was slapped away.

Project opponents are hurling buckets of mud against the wall in the hope something will stick. The lawsuit to halt ring dike work is more of the same. The courts should put an end to it.

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