Published March 04 2010
No love in Dilworth for Minnesota diversionBill Naasz worries that a Minnesota diversion would run through or near his Dilworth-area home.
John and Mary Tobolt of Dilworth fear that a Minnesota diversion would wipe out most of their farm.
Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson is afraid that a Minnesota diversion would cripple his city’s tax base and stifle future growth.
“Keep that thing out of Dilworth,” he said.
Putting the diversion in North Dakota would make far more sense, he said.
About 100 people attended a meeting Wednesday evening in Dilworth in which Olson and other officials voiced concerns about the possibility that a Red River flood diversion project will be routed through Minnesota, including Dilworth.
Among the concerns:
- The project could stifle Dilworth’s growth to the east, especially troubling since agreements with Moorhead limit growth to the west, south and north.
“We could be landlocked,” said Ken Parke, city administrator.
- The work could affect the Buffalo aquifer on Dilworth’s east side.
- A diversion would cross the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail yard in Dilworth, possibly causing the railroad to move the rail yard to North Dakota.
- Digging in the 140-year-old rail yard could unearth contaminants that would be costly to remove.
A little background:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sees a 20,000-cubic-foot-per-second diversion through Minnesota as the plan that provides the greatest economic benefits to the nation at the lowest cost.
It would be eligible for 65 percent federal funding if approved.
“The Army Corps is beginning to slant some of the information” in favor of a Minnesota diversion, Olson said.
Officials of the corps – which has played a key role in researching the costs and benefits of the diversion options being considered – weren’t at Wednesday’s meeting.
Corps officials previously downplayed concerns about BNSF leaving Dilworth and the possibility that the aquifer would be affected.
A decision on whether to recommend the diversion be put in Minnesota or North Dakota is expected later this spring.
Olson and others at Wednesday’s meeting urged area residents to contact their state and local officials and press for a North Dakota diversion.
John Tobolt said a Minnesota diversion would eliminate about two-thirds of his farm, which has been in his family for a century.
“I’m going to fight this as hard as I can,” he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530