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Published August 05, 2009, 04:40 PM

Red River Basin Commission to discuss Red River flood solutions

GRAND FORKS, N.D. –The Red River Basin Commission will meet here today to formally begin developing a basin-wide Long-term Flood Solutions Project.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS, N.D. –The Red River Basin Commission will meet here today to formally begin developing a basin-wide Long-term Flood Solutions Project.

It’s the first step in a $1 million project — $500,000 from each of the North Dakota and Minnesota legislatures — to develop a comprehensive plan to address flooding in the Red River Basin.

The RRBC has until mid-January 2010 to provide a report to the Minnesota Legislature. The North Dakota Legislature doesn’t convene until 2011.

The commission is comprised of 30 members from North Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba.

“Living on the bottom of an enormous lake bed (Lake Agassiz), we know we are not going to stop flooding in the valley. However, we must develop a plan to protect ourselves, as these floods occur regularly,” said Lance Yohe, RRBC’s executive director. “What level of protection should we strive for? What are our goals as a basin? What do we need to get there? These are the types of questions we hope to address.”

The Grand Forks-East Grand Forks dike system is certified to the level of a 250-year flood, for example. Winnipeg, on the other hand, has flood protection to 500- to 700-year flood levels.

And Fargo officials currently are discussing different levels of protection.

The RRBC will work with local governments and watershed and water resource districts to develop an inventory of their immediate projects and long-term proposals to address flooding.

“And, as we get protection for the cities, what can we do for protection of smaller communities, and for agricultural communities?” Yohe said.

Members will visit damage sites to gather input on problems and potential solutions.

An engineering firm and public facilitator will assist in the process to narrow the extensive options and help the RRBC develop the final comprehensive plan to present to lawmakers and public officials across the basin.

Yohe said commission members will get an update Thursday on the project to date. Funding began July 1.

Today’s meeting begins at 11 a.m. at the Ramada Inn. RRBC meetings are open to the public.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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