U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Minn. DNR Hold Public Meeting on F-M Diversion
The public got to learn about and comment on environmental impact drafts
MOORHEAD, Minn. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Minnesota DNR held a public meeting in hopes of getting feedback from the community. People who showed up at the Courtyard by Marriott got to see environmental drafts for the revised diversion plan.
The USACE says that two big parts of the project have changed.
“One is that more water will go through Fargo and Moorhead, that goes from 35 feet to 37 feet. We’re changing the shape and location of the southern embankment that holds water back during the time of the flood. It’s moved up a little closer to the metro area. And on both sides the tie back locations have changed,” Col. Sam Calkins, St. Paul district commander for the USACE, said.
The environmental impact statement, or EIS, isn’t final, and the project still has to go through a permitting process.
“The biggest misconception at this point people have is that the EIS is a decision document. It’s not. It doesn’t advise to go ahead with the project. An analogy— if you’re buying a house… you get an engineer to look at it…. It doesn’t tell you to buy the house. It just gives you more information so you can make a decision. That’s what the EIS process is all about,” Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner, said.
Engineers say they want to make sure that any impacts will be minimal and that they would happen before planting season starts for farmers.
“Most of the people impacted are upstream of where the project will be— south of Fargo–Moorhead. They’re very concerned, rightly so, about the water that will impact land when the project operates,” Calkins said.
Some people at the meeting say they’re worried about being flooded in. Others say the plan benefits the Fargo side more and is a poor investment.
The DNR says its staff will look at every public comment that comes in.
“We know there are impacts that go along with benefits, but we feel the need for permanent flood protection in Fargo-Moorhead and we’re committed to providing that,” Calkins said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says they estimate about six years from the time of approval for the project to be complete.