I have a “Stop the Fargo Dam” sticker on the back of my car. It often draws the attention of people in parking lots and, hopefully, while I’m driving. The other night I was loading my vehicle with things I had purchased at a home supply store in Fargo, when a couple of 30-somethings walked by discussing my sticker. The first commented he hadn’t heard of a Fargo dam. The second said there really wasn’t a dam, it was just confusion over the diversion project. Needless to say, I met a couple of new people that night.
I told them there really was a dam; that Hickson, Oxbow and Bakke would have eight feet of water on them if the proposed Red River Diversion were built. I went on to explain that the reservoir was going to cover 54,000 acres. They looked at me like I was holding a “Down on my Luck” sign by the interstate off ramp. I didn’t bother to explain that the Minnesota DNR calls it a high hazard dam.
The U.S. Army Corps and Diversion Authority call the dam a “control structure,” and the reservoir a “staging area.” The Diversion Authority also says those of us who are trying to protect our communities are trying to deny flood protection for Fargo. We can only assume that Diversion Authority members understand the project and they are intentionally crafting the message that they are delivering. The Diversion Authority chose to place the inlet six miles south of the original Minnesota plan when they moved to the west side of the river. The Corps’ report says Fargo wanted it further south for future development. The removal of an additional 40 square miles from the flood plain is the major reason for a dam and reservoir that covers our communities.
They can still choose different alternatives that would not damage their neighbors to the south and protect Fargo from flooding. The Diversion Authority can do three things: move the inlet to the Minnesota location north of the Wild Rice River, allow more water to travel through town during a flood, and develop basin wide retention south of town. These changes would eliminate the need for a dam and reservoir.
It would be great if every vehicle from our area would have a “Stop the Fargo Dam” sticker in their back window. Then all of us could explain the truth about the diversion project to our acquaintances in the region. There is time for Fargo to change its diversion features, and “Stop the Fargo Dam” stickers are still available.