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Diversion Authority Responds to Community's Questions - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Diversion Authority Responds to Community's Questions

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A full house Monday night at the Community Center in Christine, North Dakota. More than 100 people fired questions at members of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project.

The Public Forum was spear-headed by the MnDak Upstream Coalition.

A number of concerns were raised as opponents said the Diversion has too many unknowns for those affected by the flood waters. Their biggest concern is finding out after the project gets underway, when it may be too late.

Questions in hand, neighbors from communities South of Fargo-Moorhead filed in for a seat in the hopes of clearing up confusion on topics ranging from construction costs to the effects of ring dikes.

"I think the same message is: what's this going to do to us? We don't want this. We're high and dry. This is being built so Fargo won't be on a flood plain," Nathan Berseth, Director with the Upstream Coalition said.

The feeling was echoed by dozens of farmers in the room, including Mark Askegaard.

"Everything that I farm is going to be inundated with water. I'm an organic farmer, so if I'm exposed to water from outside areas, as much as eight feet of water, I'll lose my organic certification," Askegaard said.

His fourth generation farm, North of Comstock, produces the organic flaxseeds you'll recognize in local grocery stores.

"It's probably the biggest economic engine in the area," Askegaard said of his industry. "If we lose our income off our farms, it's going to directly have impact on the businesses in town-- in Fargo and Moorhead."

But, the Diversion Authority says that may be a negative impact worth the risk.

"For example, interstates, railroads, anything that's built, if you take only the negatively impacted people... What are you going to have as far as anything being built?" Darrell Vanyo said as he answered the forum's questions.

Now, farmers like Askegaard are hoping they've planted a seed for a discussion that will grow.

"The more open the dialogue we can have between the diversion authority and the community, the better it's going to be so we can have a clear understanding of the impacts if the diversion should move forward," he said.

Despite two hours of discussion, a director with the Upstream Coalition says there are still a number of unanswered questions. The coalition is continuing to work with lawyers and elected officials to find a way to stop the diversion until that is resolved.

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