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Arguing in Favor of Fargo's Embattled Flood Management Project

The Red River Diversion project, also known as the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management project, has full federal approval but was recently denied a critical permit by the state. This op-ed questions the wisdom of the state's action.
December 20, 2016, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Fargo, North Dakota
The Red River, flowing along the border between North Dakota and Minnesota.

Nick Sortland opines about the Red River Diversion, "a project designed by the Army Corps of Engineers’ St. Paul office, funded by Congress and signed off by the Obama administration to allow the Fargo metropolitan area permanent flood protection from the increasingly unpredictable Red River."

According to Sortland, climate change has led to extreme and unpredictable flooding on the Red River, precipitating the need for the diversion project in and around the city. The diversion channel, according to Sortland, would also wall off the footprint for Fargo's potential sprawl.

Despite the federal approvals and the environmental case for the project, however, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources denied a permit application for the proposed project, which it calls the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management project. The state cited three primary reasons for the denial:

  • Because the land protected would rural and sparsely developed, the "project does not meet the requirement to be reasonable, practical, protect public safety and promote public welfare."
  • "The project is not consistent with some state and local land use and water management plans in the project area."
  • "Mitigation, monitoring and adaptive management needs remain that have not been sufficiently addressed."

Returning to the original argument in favor of the project, Sortland claims that historic precedent, climate change science, and the area's ongoing growth demand that the project move forward. 

Full Story:
Published on Monday, November 28, 2016 in MinnPost
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