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David A. Sola, Fargo, Published August 31 2013

Letter: Developers, farmers and floods

Let’s explore the continuation of the flooding saga. The buck needs to stop.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said he does not care whose water it is. He demonstrated outstanding ability in saving our community from flooding. He has gone beyond the call of duty with his tireless efforts over many years.

The question is, why does it happen? In the past 25 years, draining on both sides of the Red River within a radius of 50 miles has increased immensely. And it continues to increase. Who benefits? Farmers.

Fargo planners continue to pave over the fish farm land in the bottom on this lake we live in and continue to build spillways to the river called streets, or to pumping stations to divert the water to the Red. Who benefits? Developers and investors.

Policies allow sprawl or urbanization over rich Red River Valley farmland. The lessons from American Indians and immigrant settlers have been ignored. City and Urban Planning 101 identifies these basics. American Indians did not build next to the river, only lived there when the river was low, and moved to higher ground when their homes were threatened. Settlers were also aware; some learned the hard way.

We use greed and political power to avoid these lessons. I see it every day as I drive though the metro and its sprawl. A straight line is absent from planners and administrators; there is not a major street or avenue that does not have a curve, a bend or half circle somewhere.

After I searched for answers from those who I thought could answer logically, I came away with “well, the river is not straight, and this is the result.” Wow, no one thought about correcting this years ago, now it is the “new normal.” Again, Planning 101?

Here perhaps is a solution. Farmers who benefited economically, and the cities, need to be accountable. Since we want to drain the water to a lake in Canada, then get your expensive tractors, scrapers, blades, etc., and build a straight-line canal alongside Interstate 29 from the South Dakota border to the lake in Canada.

The want is federal money to bail out those who continue to benefit from failed policies. With current building policies and pressure from investors, the F-M community will be cemented to Wahpeton, N.D. The proposed “diversion” is out of date. Oh, this will never happen? Think about it. Some say it can never be fixed, only mediated.

I loved the aroma of wheat harvest, which is now lost to other crops and developments. Change is harder when the basics are ignored. Keeping it straight and simple always prevails.