With the recent warning from the National Weather Service of increased flooding this spring, it is a good time to reflect that this year marks 10-years since the record-setting 2009 flood that nearly devastated Fargo-Moorhead and all of the many important surrounding communities.
There are not many issues more sentimental or emotion-inducing for area residents than to talk about the history of flooding, and the predictions of future flooding. Tremendous efforts and improvements have been made over the last 10 years to reduce the flood risk in the most vulnerable areas, but more work is needed to ensure that another 10 years, or even a 100 years from now, our citizens remain safe from flooding.
On Dec. 27, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources granted the Diversion Project a Dam Safety & Public Waters Work Permit (Permit Number 2018-0819). The project that was permitted is a compromise developed through the work of Govs. Doug Burgum and Mark Dayton and their 16-person Task Force.
In the end, 33 alternative plans were evaluated. The compromise project comes with provisions that are not unilaterally accepted by proponents or opponents, but that is the important point of a compromise. The oversight from the states of Minnesota and North Dakota and federal government ensures an implementation process that is fair, by the book, and makes sure that the balance between public safety and personal property is in check.
It was clear from the discussions at the Governors’ Task Force between the governors that the acquisition of the land needed for the project is a top priority, as is fairly compensating those who own land that will be temporarily impacted during the operation of the project. With that in mind, soon over 500 letters are being sent from the Diversion Authority to private property owners who may potentially have some level of impact on their property.
This much-needed outreach furthers the process of communication and discussion with property owners and eventually acquiring the property rights necessary to construct and operate the project in order to protect the metro area in times of extreme flooding. Please understand, not all affected property will be purchased. Much of the property rights needed will be affected by additional water only during extreme flood events. The remainder of time, the land will continue to be productive farmland.
I understand that we are asking impacted property owners to sacrifice. We also hope that those who are impacted understand that we have an obligation to treat you fairly and properly compensate you for your impacts. With a project as important as this to the safety and way of life of our citizens, we must continue to move forward in a timely manner. Now is the time to move forward and acquire the land needed.