Letter: More challenges in store for F-M Diversion
Two court actions are challenging the F-M Diversion Authority as we begin 2020. The first is the Diversion Authority’s appeal of the project’s permit denial by the Buffalo Red River Watershed District. A year ago, at the request of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources washed its hands of the project. They told the BRRWD that enforcing state law was their problem. The BRRWD answered the DNR’s abdication and denied the permit.
An initial hearing on the Diversion Authority’s challenge was held in Becker County Court on Dec. 17. The judge set a plan for releasing information on the denial, but no date was set for a trial. The Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority filed a motion to join the case. The judge has not made a ruling on the request.
Letter: The F-M Diversion is a cult
Letter: F-M Diversion threatens historic parish in St. Benedict
Letter: Fargo has other options for flood protection
BRRWD policy does not permit one party to flood another. In this case, the Diversion Authority is trying to remove land from the natural flood plain and create it in Clay and Wilkin Counties. The Diversion Authority’s attorneys have their best suits on for the proceedings. The Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority has undertaken a big task in asking to join the lawsuit and help defend rural landowners.
The second and related court action involves the Joint Powers Authority challenging the DNR’s altered states approval of the permit, as former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton left office. That challenge is currently scheduled to be heard in June of 2020. The central issue in that case is what facts changed in the DNR’s decision process, when the project itself remained virtually the same. The administrative law judge will have to decide if the DNR followed the law when it changed its mind.
Flood plain management is not conducted by the think method. Minnesota, as well as every other state in the country, has rules that must be followed. National experts will likely be called to testify to what is accurate and what rules are manufactured for the sake of development. The legal task is extensive and expensive. The Joint Powers Authority should be commended for their commitment.
No one should be confused about what is at stake. The Diversion Authority is taking more than 30,000 acres out of the natural floodplain so developers and homebuilders can make more money. The upstream counties, townships and school districts are bearing the cost of reduced property tax revenues and enrollments. Churches are being displaced and cemeteries flooded. Businesses that rely on stable agricultural production will be at risk because of a staging area that will be flooded with up to 8 feet of water.
Upstream residents begin a new decade with conviction and commitment to seeing this through. Hats off to all of you who offer your support. We can do the right thing.