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Mike Williams, Published December 05 2010

Sustainable city linked to land use

Kudos to Fargo City Engineers Mark Bittner and April Walker for the Nov. 16 informational meeting with the Fargo City Commission and Planning Commission and for all their hard work. The meeting was an eye-opener for some. There was an admission of mistakes and an exchange of ideas for changes that could better protect our city as we grow.

We need to take an approach that focuses on protecting what we have now in our current boundary. We can do this while targeting strategies toward quality development with infill of our current footprint that has decades of potential growth in undeveloped or underdeveloped areas, with existing infrastructure and city services already in place.

We continue to work on a diversion to protect for a 500-year event and long-term water management, but a diversion will not be in place for eight to 10 years. While diversion studies continue, we need to focus on what Fargo and our region can do now.

The Minnesota Red Watershed Board and many North Dakota Watershed boards have a common goal of 20 percent flow reduction in the main stem of the Red River and have been working Joint Powers Agreements. Some engineers estimate a 20 percent flow reduction upstream could lower the Fargo Red River level of a 2009 event by 4 to 5 feet. To achieve that, it’s estimated we need 1 million acre-feet of retention in the basin.

Some of these upstream watershed boards, like the Boise de Sioux, have already identified 100,000 or more acre-feet of potential water storage areas in their own watersheds. The goal is to develop 100,000-acre-feet of storage a year for 10 years. As soon some of the retention is in place, it helps; we’ll be reducing flood impacts incrementally with each project.

What can Fargo do?