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Published April 03, 2014, 09:54 PM

Richland-Wilkin Join Powers Authority looking to stop construction of 15-foot ring dike around their towns

Oxbow, ND (WDAY TV) - Upstream communities have initiated a legal challenge to a flood protection plan that would build a 15-foot ring dike around their towns.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Oxbow, ND (WDAY TV) - Upstream communities have initiated a legal challenge to a flood protection plan that would build a 15-foot ring dike around their towns.

The Richland-Wilkin Join Powers Authority is seeking an injunction or court order to stop construction.

The Diversion Authority has been in the process of acquiring land for the ring dike, hoping to start construction sometime this year.

Now, the Richland-Wilkin JPA it taking action to halt the project.

“This is the legal battle.”

Marcus Larson says hardly a day goes by that people in Oxbow-Hickson-Bakke aren't talking about the 15-foot ring dike set to go up around their communities.

Marcus Larson/Bakke Resident: "This is a wholly unnecessary project under current, existing conditions. The only reason this ring dike is even being constructed or even thought of is so they can build a dam and diversion so they can create a lake around us."

The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority has directed its attorneys to immediately seek an injunction or court order to prevent construction.

They say the only purpose of the ring dike is to prevent flooding caused by the diversion.

Nathan Berseth/Upstream Coalition: "It's apparent that the FM Diversion Authority wants to move forward with this project. It's a 70-million dollar waste of taxpayer dollars. The only purpose is for the diversion solely and it's a golden parachute for a select few in Oxbow."

The Minnesota DNR has not permitted the project, and the JPA argues that construction shouldn't go forward without it.

Larson: "This is something where this needs to be brought before a judge so that a third party with a disinterested view can take a look at this."

This isn't the Richland-Wilkin JPA's first legal challenge to the flood protection plans.

In September, they filed a lawsuit aimed at halting the diversion project.

That was heard today in Duluth, but a decision has not yet been released.

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