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Diane Ista, Published February 25 2013

Letter: Let’s be honest about diversion ‘misinformation’

The Diversion’s Authority Public Outreach Subcommittee chaired by Rodger Olson seems to be concerned about losing the battle of public opinion. Daron Selvig, a consultant with AE2S, who updates the diversion website, prepares an e-newsletter for the diversion authority and also posts to the section of the website the answers to frequently asked questions, has been hired for public relations concerning the F-M Diversion Authority.

The AE2S Consultant Co. is one of the many consultant companies hired by the Diversion Authority, including the Project Management Firm CH2MHill, USACE, Houston Engineering, Moore Engineering, etc.

Consultants?

It seems the decisions concerning all aspects of the diversion are made by the consultant firms through reports given to the Diversion Authority, and their reports or directives receive a rubber stamp from the Diversion Authority.

Reading through the fmdiversion.com website, there is data about the diversion concerning nearly every question you could think to ask, except what will and when will all of the residents upstream know what is in store for them and how their lives will change after the diversion is built. All the public relations you pay for will not change your “losing battle with the public” until you answer these questions, and your answers have to be written in stone and cannot be changed.

The sources

If what the upstream residents are relating to others is misinformation, the public must receive this misinformation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or F-M diversion as the printed information and maps that are handed out to the public are what is used in discussions.

Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell states, “The people who have no data are winning the public argument.” Those in the upstream area have attended meeting after meeting with the USACE and the authority where they were told they were receiving factual data. It seems impossible that at least one of the attendees from upstream would have been able to process this data and understand it.

Campbell goes on to say what the USACE has presented from their studies shows that, “if retention is moved anywhere else, it would affect between 600,000 and 1 million acres of rural land.” This statement must have some credibility of studies or research to make this claim, but none has been presented to the public other than an opinion from Moore Engineering. If the USACE were granted the same amount of funds to do a study of retention sites, the studies would have shown that retention up and down the valley would have accomplished as much or more protection for Fargo. (See the Red River Basin Commission’s study of retention.)

Pay them

Offer those in retention areas the same amount per acre for their land that those who have land in the Fargo development areas receive and there will be more sites for retention than you can use. The land used for retention sites has more value to the public to provide protection from flooding locally or as far as Fargo than building another development or large-box business in the development land that will be protected by the 200,000-acre-foot retention site, along with the thousands of acres of land that will hold the floodwaters so Fargo can keep on building in the floodplain.

If the above numbers of acre feet needed for the dam and levee, which will stretch from Interstate 29 to Highway 75 on the Minnesota side, are not correct, please let the public know the exact number of acre feet. This number should not change at the next USACE update but be a firm number of acre feet so that the upstream can be assured that they are not giving out misinformation.


Ista, Moorhead, is a member of the MnDak Upstream Coalition.