Rural dams installed recently 'big payoff' now

If you were to take a look at a map of eastern North Dakota, all the state's little creeks and streams dump into rivers, and is one reason flood flights are so complex. Flood protection miles from the metro is helping cities, farmers and homeowners all over this part of the state.


HOPE, N.D. — For the first time in years, water is going over the spillway at the Upper Maple River dam near Hope, North Dakota. Completed in 2015, it's an indication of how much water is rolling into the Maple River from other creeks and ditches. On Monday, May 2, the impact was being felt by area residents.

"Yeah, we're definitely seeing the payoffs on these projects," said Kurt Lysne with Moore Engineering.

There are roads that were frequently over-topped and frequently cut, and also just the depth flooding and the duration of the flooding downstream of this dam, it is very beneficial for that. Damage is being avoided every minute right now.

Near Enderlin, The Maple River Dam was completed in 2007. It too is making a difference this week in what is flowing North of West Fargo, where the Maple, Sheyenne, and Rush rivers meet.

"There is 5,100+ (cubic feet per second of water) coming into the Maple River Dam right now and there is 1,000 cfs going out, so we're cutting those flows by 80%," Lysne said.


Those dam structures not only lessen the impact of the flood and shorten the stay of the flood, but there are long-term impacts to property values and growth.

A good example is the Sheyenne Diversion in West Fargo.

"South of the Interstate in West Fargo was all flood plain prior to those projects (Sheyenne Diversion)," Lysne said.

"So now you've gone from, essentially, zero-assessed property value to around $2.4 billion in property value south of the interstate. That's the Horace to West Fargo diversion that basically eliminates flooding inside that protected area," they say.

Recently WDAY News went to the Baldhill Dam in Valley City, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is closely watching levels there.

A 2004 upgrade is making a difference, allowing the Corps to store more water instead of the Sheyenne River and Valley City taking on too much, too fast.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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