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Published May 10 2012

Forum editorial: Diversion upstream has a voice

The people in the path of upstream features of the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion are making sound arguments about the potential negative impacts of the massive project. They believe – and are more right than wrong – that they are being forced to sacrifice land, homes and lifestyles, and that their voices are not being heard – or at least not being taken seriously.

That being said, there is a measure of silliness in the diversion’s upstream area that taints the seriousness of legitimate objections to the project. The Cass County “secessionists” who want to become part of Richland County detract from the necessarily pragmatic discussion of upstream effects. And even in the off chance they succeed in joining Richland, they won’t have any appreciable effect on the diversion, other than to make it more difficult for thoughtful people to press their case against specific features of the project.

In that regard, project sponsors have a responsibility to do more to assure people in the project’s path that everything possible is being done to minimize harm. It’s got to be more than happy talk to the media or including opponents in a meeting or two. Real adjustments – smaller and shallower holding basins, for example – should be a priority. The routing of the channel should consider sensitivities about rural communities, farmstead heritage and rural school districts. If the channel capacity can be reduced because of flood protection work done in Fargo and Moorhead, upstream impacts will be lessened.

It’s not that project sponsors have ignored upstream objections. They have not. Indeed, they are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address the issues. But if the project, which is still a work in progress, is to stay on pace, sponsors must avoid prolonged litigation and deflate the political posturing that has emerged in the Cass County Commission primary. Getting more serious, more open and more understanding about the uprisings in Oxbow, Hickson, Bakke subdivision, Wild Rice, Kindred and other places is the right way to go.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum

management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.