Before FEMA will revise the flood rate map to give Breckenridge property owners relief from FEMA flood insurance requirements, the Army Corps - the federal agency that designed the Breckenridge Diversion - is required to certify that the newly completed diversion and levee system will provide the required flood protection for a 100 year event.

    Before FEMA will revise the flood rate map to give Breckenridge property owners relief from FEMA flood insurance requirements, the Army Corps - the federal agency that designed the Breckenridge Diversion - is required to certify that the newly completed diversion and levee system will provide the required flood protection for a 100 year event.  Although those within the protected area will get relief, a much larger area outside the new diversion will now be in a 100 year flood plain.   If the Army Corps gets its way, Wilkin and Richland County residents outside the new diversion will forever pay flood insurance even though they have never flooded.

    The Army Corps is pushing FEMA to raise the definition of a 100 year flood by two feet to the south of Breckinridge, and by three feet to the east.  This alteration of the FEMA flood plain definition won’t just affect the Minnesota side; there will be significant consequences for Wahpeton and North Dakota as well.   City and County Officials, being rightly alarmed, inquired as to what would prompt the Army Corps to take such a harmful and unfounded position.    They found the Army Corps’ justification in its Breckenridge Diversion Levee System Evaluation Report.   

    We have previously discussed the Expert Opinion Elicitation (EOE) the Army Corps came up with once it became clear that Fargo’s existing flood risk would not qualify Fargo’s project either for congressional approval or federal funding.   A 100 year flood in Fargo, currently defined by FEMA as a 39.5 foot crest, does not justify spending billions of dollars or building a dam that floods 50,000 acres of high ground upstream.   Fargo’s greatest historical flood was only 40.8 feet.  So the Army Corps essentially cooked the books, paid a few experts to declare that we are in a “wet cycle” and therefore need only look at historical data going back to 1942.   This EOE “wet cycle” reasoning allowed the Army Corps to disregard all the historical data prior to 1942, i.e. the dry “dust bowl” years going back as far as 1880.  Though the FEMA 100 year flood in Fargo is 39.5 feet, the Army Corps claims it should be 42.5 feet.  Fargo’s Diversion leaders can now claim that a 100 year flood would cause a bazillion dollars in damage and that their dam will only cause minimal harm because, if the 100 year flood is 42.5 feet, “they would all be flooded anyway.”   Further, the Corps’ threat that FEMA will revise the flood plain map up three feet helps to drive Fargo’s agenda, promising that their dam and diversion will remove the FEMA insurance requirements – the very requirements they are trying to drive up.

    So Breckenridge and Wilkin Co leaders discovered that the “Wet Cycle” theory concocted to promote Fargo’s diversion is now being used to push FEMA to raise by three feet the 100 year flood definition in Breckinridge/Wahpeton.    In their Breckenridge Levee Report to FEMA, the Army Corps again references a “wet period,” only considers historical data since 1942, makes the Breckenridge analysis “mesh” with the FM project, and requires the same FM Diversion EOE analysis because the Breckenridge project “overlaps” the FM Diversion.   Look out Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.  Please start paying attention to the result oriented engineering going on to your south because it’s coming your way.

Cash Aaland
Christine, North Dakota