In their planning efforts, the Minot Flood Recovery Committee is, I hope, drawing on the Wisdom of the East. That would be the body of knowledge generated by those who have dealt with Red River flooding.
Their efforts are captured in a 2005 TV documentary on the aftermath of the 1997 flood. It can be accessed on the Internet at "Red River Divide: Flood Control ND Studies."
Broken into six parts, its conclusion, "Part 6: Cooperative Management," should be required viewing for everyone, especially plan makers. It is two minutes and 48 seconds of wisdom directly applicable to our flooding situation.
Two persons in the video have been involved in the Minot flood fight: then Gov. John Hoeven and then State Engineer David Sprynczynatyk.
A main conclusion is that flood prevention by itself is an unrealistic goal. Flood avoidance is also needed. There is a limit to how high dikes can be built. Some clearing out of the river valley is also needed, so that floods can be accommodated and not just fought.
Permanent dikes also run the risk of ending up with water on their wrong side, thus flooding rather than protecting buildings. And even if you move a tremendous amount of water through without damaging any buildings, it overwhelms towns and farmland downstream. High permanent dikes also permanently reduce our view of the river.
Eastern wisdom says you have to give the river its due. It's going to flood every now and then, with some years worse than others, and there could always be one bigger than this one.
To some degree, you have to go with the flow rather than try to confine or direct it. That way, floods cover mainly grass rather than dwellings, businesses, schools and other structures.
Each flood-vulnerable city is unique, of course. It may not be appropriate to clear out more than 400 feet of a river valley, as some cities have.
But now, while we are in the planning stage, it would be wise now to consider recommendations coming from Red River flood recovery efforts: higher permanent dikes, to a degree, but also a greenway or floodway, so that we learn to live with the river rather than keep trying to confine or direct it.
More than just wasted space, a greenway could be an extended riverside park that draws many campers, boaters, anglers, hikers, cyclists, cross country skiers and ice skaters. It could be a great recreational opportunity for locals and for outsiders bringing in their tourist dollars.
As I mentioned in a previous column, Rapid City put in a five block wide, six mile long greenway after their 1972 flood. This may not be for Minot. But something wider than 400 feet may be.
(Lien is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)