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Published May 24 2009

About the Red River Flooding project

Permanent flood control.

The words have become a mantra for communities in the Red River Valley.

But flood control is easier said than done.

Where does one begin?

The Red River? The Wild Rice?

And which Wild Rice, the one in North Dakota, or the one in Minnesota?

Then there is the question of what should be done.

Diversions? Dams?

The complexity of addressing issues that span state and international borders and that involve multiple waterways has led many to believe a special authority should be chosen to lead the fight.

But what agency will be given such power and to whom will it be accountable?

A study being done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes to shed light on possible answers. The corps plans to release a final report in 2010, but cities like Fargo and Moorhead have said they won’t wait that long.

Meanwhile, Fargo residents are set to vote June 30 on a special sales tax for permanent flood control.

With so much on the line, The Forum set out to take an in-depth look at the Red River Valley and the flooding issues that plague it.

We also wanted to examine more closely what solutions might come to be.

To tell this story, we must start at the beginning. Today’s “Valley Flooding” series sets up the dynamics of the region and its waterways.

Each Sunday over the next month, we’ll unfold more layers of the story. We’ll revisit other historic floods and talk about lessons learned.

We’ll go behind the scenes into the politics of flood control and look at what other cities have done to protect themselves and what the Red River Valley can do to save itself from another epic spring flood.