A stop sign in Moorhead during Red River flooding in March. (MPR Photo/Ann Arbor Miller )
State and local officials get on the bus Wednesday in Moorhead for a tour of some projects recently built to cope with flooding problems.
The tour is organized by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (commonly called “Bowser” — BWSR), which is holding a board meeting in Moorhead on Thursday.
The tour group will get a look at a new outlet to lower Boyer Lake near Lake Park. Rising lakes with no natural outlet are a problem all across west central and north central Minnesota.
They will also visit a wetland restoration project. Manston Slough near Rothsay was drained in the 1800’s when the state was pushing farmers to dig thousands of miles of ditches. Draining the slough caused perennial flooding problems downstream. So now the wetland has been restored, slowing runoff.
This is the kind of project supporters say can help ease flooding for Fargo-Moorhead. Environmental groups argue more wetland restorations should be done, instead of the 1.4 billion dollar diversion channel now proposed to divert part of the Red River around Fargo and Moorhead.
But it would take hundreds of similar wetland projects to significantly reduce spring flooding. This tug of war between natural water storage and levees and flood diversion channels is nothing new. These arguments have waxed and waned over the past century, depending on how wet or dry it is.
The emphasis of the tour is “partnerships to address resource problems.” That’s certainly appropriate since few issues are more divisive than water and it seems there’s a maze of federal, state and local involvement in any water-related decision.