Criticism Cresting

Inside Dakota Ag

Agriculture is getting blamed for the Red River Valley flood

Published on: April 8, 2009

The Red River is rising again and so is criticism of ag’s role in the flood.


Pat Zavoral, Fargo’s city administrator, is the latest to say that farmers have made Red River Valley floods worse by getting water to the river faster.


I can see how farmland drainage gets the first and last amount of excess water off fields to the ditches and river faster. But in a flood there’s so much water it seems to overwhelms the drainage system. The water just follows the tilt of the land.


Farmland drainage might even reduce flooding. Think of how much water moved into the river last fall. What if all the rain that didn’t soak into the soil last fall had frozen in place on the surface and drained to the Red this spring along with the snowmelt?


The Fargo city commission voted 5-0 to call for the creation of a Red River Valley Authority to manage water retention and water quality issues in the basin in the future.


Zavoral told the Fargo Forum that “agricultural runoff is becoming increasingly polluted with ammonia and other chemicals, making water from the Red River increasingly difficult to treat.”


Ag had better get good representatives on the Red River Valley Authority and be prepared to protect its interests, otherwise important practices for profitable farming will be swept away in the flood of 2009.

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