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Ken Pawluk, Published February 23 2013

Letter: Diversion not just a plan for Fargo

As I think of this region’s need for the F-M Area Diversion Project, I am reminded that the Cass County Emergency Operations Center has been activated four times in the past decade for long, grueling bouts of flood response duty. Today, we have a plan in the diversion project that takes more than 92 percent of Cass County residents out of the floodplain.

The contention that the diversion is “Fargo’s plan” is misleading. This project benefits the vast majority of Cass County. Once the diversion is built, the Cass County cities of Oxbow, Briarwood, Wild Rice, Horace, West Fargo, Reiles Acres and Harwood will no longer be threatened with flooding from the Sheyenne, Maple, Rush and Red rivers. But we aren’t stopping there.

The communities directly south of Fargo, where studies have shown we must build a water retention area for the diversion project to work at maximum effectiveness, have been offered 500-year flood protection – the best in the Red River Valley. Not only does this kind of protection facilitate the continued livelihood of a community, it has proved to restore property values in areas where the threat of flooding has driven values down. The offer from the Diversion Authority to build this protection also shows an investment in the health of the Kindred School District by preserving and protecting future funding for the district.

The majority of those living in Oxbow see how this will benefit their community and have signed on. We hope Hickson and Bakke will join us in protecting their communities from flooding and to help mitigate the effects from building the needed retention area.

Many, many discussions have been held with communities to the south of Fargo. Hundreds of people from the Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke areas have attended several public meetings to learn about the diversion project. Dozens of one-on-one meetings have been held with landowners, and more of those meetings are being scheduled. The landowners who have attended these meetings are getting the real story of the Diversion Project, and are getting their individual and personal questions answered.

The project protects the region. It protects 92 percent of Cass County residents. It protects the local economy, which generates

$4.35 billion in annual non-farming wages and more than $2.77 billion in annual taxable sales, along with $14 billion in property value.

The diversion project protects all of our futures.

Pawluk is a Cass County commissioner and a member of the FM Diversion Board of Authority.