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Forum staff reports, Published January 14 2011

Derek Walters of the EERC reacts to the North Dakota State Water Commission's review

The following is a statement e-mailed to The Forum on Wednesday by Derek Walters, spokesman for the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, in response to a request for the EERC’s reaction to the North Dakota State Water Commission’s review of the EERC’s waffle plan for flood control.

The statement reads:

"All modeling results are always limited to their underlying assumptions. This is evident in the day-to-day flood stage forecasts that all of us in the Red River Valley have witnessed over the last decade and a half.


The EERC’s Waffle-related efforts were peer-reviewed by highly-respected, highly-qualified individuals in relevant Federal, State, and local entities. The modeling efforts therein reflected our best efforts to history-match previously observed river stages. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers main stem models were dovetailed with the EERC’s own models.


It is apparent, at this time, that substantial discrepancies exist and that may, in certain isolated instances, overestimate flood stage reductions associated with certain Waffle storage scenarios.


The EERC believes that these discrepancies do not in any way diminish the opportunity for a major demonstration of the Waffle concept or the underlying value of such a demonstration. In fact, such a demonstration would greatly facilitate a thorough evaluation of any and all available models.


The need for upstream storage as a key element of flood mitigation has been noted by essentially all knowledgeable parties in the Red River Valley, and the Waffle concept is certainly one such means of achieving this. To project the benefit of any water storage scenario, Waffle or otherwise, models will be required. These models will inherently be limited by the models themselves, and their underlying assumptions.


Put simply, water that is retained by any means is water that is not flowing in the river. Effective flood mitigation is essential in ensuring this region’s long-term economic viability, and it is time to initiate those measures that promise to do so."