I am writing in response to your recent articles regarding the reluctance of some Minnesota landowners to sign right of entry agreements with the Diversion Authority. They have good reason to be suspect, as my family and I have experienced firsthand.
Our family farm is located west of Harwood, N.D. In a meeting two years ago, we were asked to sign an access agreement. We had several concerns that left us reluctant to sign. The chief concern was regarding the potential for increased flood levels west of the diversion channel dike, and their effect on residences located there (a concern that has still not be addressed adequately). Another concern was the effect the heavy soil-boring equipment might have on roads and farmlands during the spring thaw. We did not sign, even after an agent of the Diversion Authority told us, “if we cooperated now, things would go better for you down the line.”
The soil testing took place on a warm, thawing day shortly after our meeting. There was no signed agreement in place. The survey crew entered our farmland via Diversion-owned property and were asked to leave the same way. Instead, they exited using our quarter-mile long farm driveway, significantly rutting the road and dragging large chunks of mud up on it. When notified of the damage, the Diversion Authority directed us to contact “our diversion representative” to file a claim. We’re still not sure who that might be and have received no response.
The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion will adversely affect people, homes and land, and the Diversion Authority overseeing it has a poorly-planned system in place for addressing concerns or negative effects. Based on our experience, the Minnesota landowners have a right to be wary. The Diversion Authority needs to step up its game. It must own the adverse effects along with the benefits. Start taking care of both sides of the business.