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Heidi Shaffer, Published June 10 2010

Corps presents impact report

The downstream impacts of a proposed North Dakota diversion continue to be a top concern for a number of residents at Wednesday’s public informational meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps met in Moorhead to present the draft of the environmental impact statement released last week as well as discuss the latest downstream impact levels.

The latest projections for the North Dakota 35,000-cubic-feet-per-second plan put the highest impact level between Hendrum, Minn., and Halstad, Minn.

Red River floodwaters would rise about 11.6 inches higher there in a 100-year flood than without the project, and that has some worried.

Harland Sauter lives in Georgetown, Minn., where downstream effects are projected at about 7.1 inches in a 100-year flood.

“We can’t handle any more water down there,” Sauter said.

Michael Reinhardt owns a home along the river in north Moorhead, and said his biggest concern is that nothing gets done about flooding, but downstream impacts are also important to watch.

“I’m worried about what might happen to other folks,” he said.

The corps hasn’t studied effects beyond Halstad, but project manager Craig Evans said that tops its priority list in the coming month.

About 90 community officials and residents attended the presentation, which for the first time included the environmental impacts of the project.

Adam Walz, a North Dakota State University research specialist who previously worked with the Nature Conservancy, attended his first diversion meeting because of some questions he had about the effects on hydrology and land use in the project.

Evans said the corps’ plan includes appropriate mitigation for any unavoidable environmental impacts.

The corps will include public input from the meeting in its final feasibility study report, which will wrap up in September.

If you go

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511