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Diane Ista, Published July 14 2010

Does ‘Invest in Your Valley’ include downstream towns?

‘Invest in Your Valley!” What a positive promotion for our valley. We have some wonderful Minnesota cities in the valley north of Fargo and Moorhead, namely Kragnes, Georgetown, Perley, Hendrum, Halstad, Shelly, Climax, Nielsville and many more wonderful small cities. Let’s invest in them. They are close to the major transportation centers of Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. It would be wonderful if the advertisement of “Invest in Your Valley” was successful and came true for these communities in the valley.

Of course there is that threat of a diversion that would add 1 to 2 feet of additional floodwaters to these cities, so I am guessing “Invest in Your Valley” means Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Isn’t that sad?

The statements from the Metro Flood Control Work Group are that the downstream impacts will be addressed when they are ready. No, the downstream impacts should be the first item on your agenda, not the USACE Environmental Impact Statement draft report or the joint powers agreement, which states who has what power and authority in the planning and control of how the diversion will be operated, etc. These two documents have no input from the downstream victims of the diversion, and that is what they are, victims.

The downstream public now has the privilege of commenting on the draft report, and, through legal advice, we are informed that the USACE has the final say and the courts rule in favor of the expertise of the agency. Also, if we do not submit comments that are substantive, they may not be considered, and if we do not comment, our opportunity of legal action is gone.

There are a lot of quite capable and smart people downstream, but they have jobs, and the overwhelming time and effort it will take for cities, counties and individuals to read through and comment on the huge USACE EIS draft report

is incomprehensible. Therefore, a law firm and technical expert with this expertise will need to be hired at a huge cost to the downstream public because of Fargo and Moorhead protecting their cities first.

It seems all meetings where the real decisions are made are behind closed doors, using engineering firms as the meeting place so the meetings are not open to the public. This is not Minnesota and North Dakota nice.

We know Fargo and Moorhead need protection, but from my unofficial survey, those who live in Fargo and Moorhead state they would sign a petition that they do not want a diversion at the expense of impacts to their neighbors downstream.

Please slow this process down and put the horse in front of the cart. Build retention and complete a plan made of stone that will not be changed, to assure there will be zero downstream impacts so we can “Invest in Our Valley” north of Fargo and Moorhead.

Ista is a member of the Red River Downstream Impact Work Group.