WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 23, 2014, 09:32 PM

Concerned citizens in Red River Valley gather to discuss flood control

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Opponents of a flood protection plan proposed by the F-M Diversion Authority say they have a better idea.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Opponents of a flood protection plan proposed by the F-M Diversion Authority say they have a better idea.

About a hundred people packed into Comstock's Community Center tonight to hear why the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority says Oxbow doesn't need a ring dike.

The current plan places a diversion three miles south of the Wild Rice/Red River confluence.

That includes building a ring dike to protect the communities of Oxbow, Hickson, and Bakke.

But opponents say simply moving the diversion inlet a few miles north would eliminate that need completely.

On a blustery night, residents of several upstream communities filed into Comstock to hear a flood protection plan they say would be less destructive to their homes.

Mayor Tom Askegaard of Comstock: "We are all in this together we are just trying to find a fair deal here where we're not getting everything shoved down our throats."

Many here are against the plan proposed by the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority, which would create a staging area around several upstream communities and build ring dikes to protect them.

Dennis Biewer, Bakke Resident-Association president: "We're going to have to end up driving a hole to get to our properties and we feel like we're the ones being damaged so Fargo can get the diversion they want."

The MNDAK Upstream Coalition hired Engineer Charlie Anderson to do some research and this is what he found:

If the diversion inlet is moved north of the Wild Rice/Red River Confluence, rather than three miles south, and 20-percent upstream retention is also used, the elevation of the flood in Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke during a 100 year event would be lower than it was in 2009.

In 2010, Oxbow built protection for a foot above the ’09 level, and Bakke and Hickson never flooded.

Cash Aaland, MNDAK Upstream Coalition: "The conclusions are obvious. Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke doesn't need a ring dike, or a new golf course, doesn't need a new clubhouse or swimming pool."

The coalition says Fargo wants the diversion inlet south of the confluence to protect land for economic development.

But they hope the Diversion Authority takes their proposal seriously.

Biewer: "We haven't had a good, solid voice at the table, yet."

Supporters of this alternative plan say it would save millions of dollars in unnecessary costs, including $70 million for the Oxbow ring dike.

The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority did not take an active role in tonight's meeting.

Tomorrow, the National Weather Service will release its first flood prediction for this spring.