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Published February 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

West Fargo starts flood preparations

West Fargo officials are making initial preparations for spring flooding, but don’t anticipate problems with the Sheyenne River or the diversion that surrounds the western edge of the city.

West Fargo officials are making initial preparations for spring flooding, but don’t anticipate problems with the Sheyenne River or the diversion that surrounds the western edge of the city.

“Everything looks really good,” even though conditions are similar to last year, Public Works Director Barry Johnson said. “We just want to stay ahead of the game and keep everyone informed.”

The Sheyenne Diversion worked effectively in protecting the city during the 2009 flood, Mayor Rich Mattern said during Monday’s City Commission meeting.

This year, Mattern and other city officials want to improve communication with residents about what’s being done to prepare for and protect against potential floodwaters.

City leaders plan to host two public meetings for West Fargo residents north and south of Interstate 94 to inform the two groups about flood preparations and answer questions.

Land north of I-94 in West Fargo is protected by the diversion against a 500-year flood; land to the south is protected against a 100-year flood, City Administrator Jim Brownlee said.

The specific dates of the public meetings have not been scheduled, but are planned for March.

“We want to be proactive with trying to get the word out,” Mattern said.

West Fargo is also coordinating with neighborhoods – specifically along the river and the diversion – to increase communication and monitoring of water levels this spring, Johnson told the commissioners.

Officials are also lining up contractors and equipment in case there are ice jams in the waterways that could contribute to potential flooding, Brownlee said.

Meanwhile, pumps are being arranged on the interior of the diversion to help drain ponds that can accumulate as snow melts in open fields.

And, the city will have about 10,000 sandbags on hand, as typically happens every year because of the Army Corps of Engineers’ requirements for the diversion, Johnson said.

Mattern said he’s heard rumors from concerned residents that the diversion was broken or damaged, but that’s not the case.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong structurally with the diversion, with the integrity of it,” City Engineer Kevin Bucholz agreed.

Because the Sheyenne Diversion is often used more than once each year, maintenance and upkeep of the diversion is typical, such as removing debris from the diversion’s interior, Johnson said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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