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Ken Pawluk, Fargo, Published February 22 2014

Letter: Davies’ claims about project are unfounded

A Feb. 15 column in The Forum by my friend the Honorable Judge Thomas Davies regarding the FM Area Flood Diversion Project made some unfounded claims that need clearing up.

Davies stated that he had been ill and admittedly did not develop the information he used himself. While he has earned the benefit of the doubt on intentions, I feel there are a number of developments that have taken place over the past five years he might not be familiar with in detail.

One glaring omission was his lack of mention of Cass County. As is often opined by opponents of the Diversion Project, their focus is on Fargo and the Red River. What I would like to make Davies and others aware of is that over my nine years as a county commissioner, I have seen major spring flooding eight times. More to my point, this flooding has not come solely from the Red River. The Sheyenne River, the Maple River, the Rush River and the Lower Rush River all contribute to major flooding across the county; all will have reduced flood risk with the diversion in place.

I often hear that with the diversion, Fargo is forcing its will on the surrounding area. But make no mistake: While Fargo is part of the project, this is Cass County’s flood protection plan. In fact, the diversion would offer flood protection to 92 percent of the people within Cass County. In addition, with this plan in place, it will free up county resources to further aid other communities and residents who are not in the area of protection.

As a member of the Diversion Authority, I have seen firsthand the tremendous efforts that have gone into each of the decisions regarding the diversion. If there is a better flood protection plan, I have not seen it. Millions have been spent by state and local governments to model and track every option.

What we have in front of us now is the best plan. It protects the largest number of people while containing and minimizing negative impacts. Unfortunately, every major water project has impacts, but I and others have been, and will continue to be vigilant to minimize those impacts.

Cass County needs flood protection and the diversion is our plan. For nearly every detail regarding the project, go to: fmdiversion.com

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