Weather Wednesday: Through flood and drought, metro area tied to the Red River
Most think of the Red River as a river that floods, but this river that flows north has a complex and varying personality.
FARGO — Some people say this is not a good place for a river. Others say this is not a good place for a town.
Either way, we can all agree that it's costly and expensive when the Red River overflows. Even this year's flood, though well-managed, was a bit of a scare, and a major hassle for many.
The higher the water goes, the harder it is to stay out of its way. But several times since the Northern Pacific built a bridge over the Red in 1872, the mighty Red has nearly run dry.
Photos from 1910 show the river without any flow at all, just a sequence of muddy puddles.
During the 1930s, the Red went dry several times. In 1970, the Red was reduced to a summer trickle.
Too little water in the Red can be an even bigger problem than too much because it's the water supply to a growing urban population. We drink it, bathe in it, and rely on it for countless businesses and industries.
In the summer of 1988, low water on the Red caused a severe water shortage, and our population has doubled since that last drought.
Work is scheduled to begin next spring on the Red River Valley Water Supply Project. A plan to pipe up to 74,000 gallons of water a minute from the Missouri Basin to the Red River Valley in times of drought.
So hopefully, the next time the Red runs out of water, the Red River Valley won't.