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Tracy Frank, Published March 11 2010

FLOOD UPDATE: Walaker says Fargo will pursue south side flood plan if smaller diversion chosen

FARGO – If area leaders choose a Red River diversion option that doesn’t protect against a 500-year flood, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said the city will go forward with its own south side flood mitigation plan.

“In my opinion, 20,000 cubic feet per second is a short-term process,” Walaker said. “If it comes to that, if all this fails, I’ll tell you what Fargo is going to do, we’re going to protect ourselves.”

Walaker said Fargo would implement its $160 million south side flood mitigation plan so the city can handle at least a 100-year flood.

He made the announcement during a state of the cities address sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead Thursday at the Fargodome.

A 20,000-cubic-feet-per-second diversion through Minnesota is seen as the plan that provides the greatest economic benefits to the nation at the lowest cost, according to a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency tapped to study flood protection options for the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The diversion option is eligible for 65 percent federal funding if approved but offers limited protection against a 500-year flood event.

However, members of the Metro Flood Study Work Group also are exploring larger diversion options on both the Minnesota and North Dakota sides.

Walaker also said he doesn’t care which side of the river the diversion goes on, but it should be built to withstand a 500-year flood.

“We need something,” Walaker told hundreds in the business community who attended the event. “We’ve got to put an end to this.”

The mayors of West Fargo, Moorhead, and Dilworth also talked about what has been happening in their cities over the past year. Flood control and the economy dominated the conversations.