Metro Flood Study Work Group to seek storage optionsDownstream impacts of a Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project occupied a good chunk of the discussion Thursday when members of the Metro Flood Study Work Group met in Fargo City Hall.
By: Dave Olson, INFORUM
Downstream impacts of a Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project occupied a good chunk of the discussion Thursday when members of the Metro Flood Study Work Group met in Fargo City Hall.
The group gave its collective thumbs-up to a study investigating upstream storage options and their potential effects on reducing the downstream harm posed by any Red River diversion built to protect the Fargo-Moorhead area.
The $50,000 study, which is being done by Moore Engineering of West Fargo, will be paid for by the Southeast Cass Water Resource District.
One question the study will try to answer is how much storage would be needed to sink downstream diversion impacts to zero, said Jeff Volk of Moore Engineering.
Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell said Fargo-Moorhead area officials are mindful of the fears downstream communities have after hearing from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that a diversion could raise downstream levels of the Red River by up to 10 inches.
In addition to storage options, Moore Engineering is studying ways to protect communities north and south of Fargo if a Minnesota diversion becomes the preferred local option for permanent flood protection, as opposed to a diversion on the North Dakota side of the Red River.
The latter holds greater potential to protect Cass County, but federal officials have made it clear that a Minnesota diversion would likely have a better chance for congressional approval, based on a cost-benefit analysis.
Volk said a variety of factors will be evaluated, including a relatively small “northwest diversion” in Cass County, as well as the potential benefits of pursuing elements of Fargo’s southside flood protection plan.
Aspects of that plan, which was effectively placed on hold when talk of diversions started gaining momentum, include limited levee construction and building ring dikes.
The work group was updated on the timeline local officials will have to stick to if they hope to get a flood protection plan to Congress before the end of the year.
Major stepping stones include:
U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., attended Thursday’s meeting and vowed he would work hard to secure funding and other resources for whatever project local leaders choose.
“There is no plan that doesn’t have serious downsides. But the plans – most importantly – have very serious upsides,” Pomeroy said, adding that whatever project is chosen “will change life here.”
Aaron Snyder, an Army Corps of Engineers official who attended the meeting via phone, answered questions from several officials, including one who asked how a Minnesota diversion would affect the Buffalo aquifer in Clay County.
Snyder said potential diversion impacts and possible routes are still being studied, but he said it doesn’t appear a diversion would come close enough to the aquifer to be an issue.
“We’re going to be plenty west of the aquifer,” he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555