Were Fargo Flood Projections Exaggerated To Bully Legislature Into Approving Diversion Funds?

Fargo-area leaders were quick to cite the projections for a “flood of record” during the debate in the state legislature over funding for the region’s controversial flood diversion project. But now it seems that the flood will fall well short of those dire projections, and in fact looking at the latest trend lines for water levels it looks like even with a massive melt-off, water levels are coming in under even those lower projections.

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The rapid build-up for a flood that didn’t materialize will apparently cost the city millions, and now many are asking if there was really a flood threat this year or if officials were just fear-mongering to make the case for flood diversion.

“Today the NWS estimate for the crest of the Red in Fargo is basically 5 feet lower than a few weeks ago — when the bill in the legislature for [diversion funding] came up,” a reporter in the state emailed me this morning. “When it failed…the crest projections started to slowly drop.”

I think we can all be thankful that the flood waters are dropping. As for theories about a conspiracy to make the impending flood look worse than it was, who knows. I generally think we give a little too much competence to government leaders when it comes to putting together such conspiracies. I mean, let’s face it, they’re really not all that competent.

But given the arrogant, bullying manner in which city officials and even the local media has handled criticism of the diversion project not to mention the political muscle put into drowning out said critics, the idea of Fargo overdoing flood preparations to try and tip diversion legislation in their favor doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

One thing is certain: The handling of the diversion issue by local government, and local media, hasn’t done that debate any favors.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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