Dozens of landowners were among a crowd of more than 200 people who attended a public meeting to learn more about a proposal to build a ring levee for the communities of Oxbow, Bakke and Hickson, ND.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Diversion Authority hosted the meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at Bennett Elementary School in south Fargo.
In addition to the public landowner meeting, the Corps of Engineers held more than 75 individual meetings with landowners from Tuesday-Thursday, January 8-10.
The public meeting focused on the specific properties impacted and sought local input on whether a ring levee is the preferred course of action. The ring levee would protect the communities from water which would be stored in the area when the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project operates during times of severe flooding.
The areas within the ring dike would have protection well in excess of a 500-year flood. Regarding this level of protection for Oxbow residents, Mark Bittner, Director of Engineering for the City of Fargo, recalled a discussion he had with Jim Nyhof, Mayor of Oxbow. “Mark, he said, I think we deserve the same type of protection you’re building for Fargo,” Bittner recounted. “That’s what we’re attempting to achieve here. You’ve seen us do quite a bit of work in Fargo ahead of the Diversion. All of this work we’re doing is compatible with the Diversion, complementary and needed. It’s also affordable. We can build that.”
Some have asked why the Diversion Authority can’t both build the levee and acquire the interior lots that would be protected. “We are proposing to do exactly what we’re doing in Fargo,” Bittner said. “We are proposing to acquire those lots that can’t be protected, and leave those lots and houses that are protected by the levee. It’s not financially feasible for us to do both. We’d love to do everything for everybody but we just can’t afford that.”
The ring dike would generally be between 9 and 12 feet high, with some areas potentially being higher depending on determination of a final alignment. The ring dike would also dramatically reduce the number of home buyouts needed to build the Diversion Project.
Corps of Engineers and Diversion Authority Representatives outlined various aspects of the ring levee concept at the public meeting.
Press Release, January 15, 2013