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Diversion Authority OKs $750K worth of studies

FARGO - As engineers continue technical design work on the Red River diversion, local officials are trying to figure out how to reduce the project's negative effects south of the Fargo-Moorhead area.

FARGO - As engineers continue technical design work on the Red River diversion, local officials are trying to figure out how to reduce the project's negative effects south of the Fargo-Moorhead area.

To that end, members of the Flood Diversion Authority approved seven recommendations on Thursday to begin about $750,000 worth of studies and modeling indirectly associated with the project.

The work would refine existing diversion channel plans and features while studying ways to minimize the impacts.

Among those projects is a nearly $200,000 study approved last month by the Diversion Authority that will look at how increasing the allowable flows through Fargo-Moorhead could reduce how often the diversion would need to be operated.

Diversion Authority members also discussed more options for retention in the southern Red River Valley, which could provide added relief in conjunction with the diversion's 500-year protection.

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Officials have said retention would not replace the need for the project.

Also Thursday, Diversion Authority consultants said they have met several times in recent weeks with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials to begin a state-mandated environmental im­pact study on the diversion.

Tom Waters, the authority's project management team leader, said DNR officials are working with diversion consultants to outline the study's scope before it begins.

A federal environmental study was completed last year, as part of the feasibility phase of the project.

A Minnesota-specific study is required because, based on the state's standards, the Red River control structure of the diversion qualifies as a dam and needs to be evaluated for environmental impacts, said Moorhead city engineer Bob Zimmerman.

If DNR officials outline their study using the recent federal report as a base of reference, it will cost the Diversion Authority at least $235,000.

But if DNR officials write their own environmental impact statement, it could cost an extra $1.4 million, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said earlier Thursday.

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

Related Topics: FARGO-MOORHEAD DIVERSION
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