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Dave Olson, Published September 08 2010

Moorhead eyes sandbag production and storage facility

Moorhead officials said Tuesday that before they decide whether the city should build a $1.7 million sandbag facility, they need to discuss further whether all residents should pay to protect private property threatened by flooding.

City Councilman Mark Hintermeyer called the question “the elephant in the room” at a Tuesday meeting of the council, where officials discussed plans for a sandbag production and storage facility near the city’s wastewater treatment facility at 2121 28th St. N.

As envisioned, the building would include a heated sandbag production side and a non-heated storage side, though portable heat would be used in the storage side when needed.

About 62,000 sandbags could be stored at the facility, though that number could be increased.

City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said the facility would not satisfy the city’s entire sandbag storage needs during major flooding, but he said it would ease the strain.

During the 2010 flood, when the Red River crested at just below 37 feet, the city produced about 350,000 sandbags that went to about 100 properties.

The city estimates that during a flood that reaches 43 feet, it would need about 5.2 million sandbags to protect about 364 homes.

When not used for sandbags, the building could house city equipment.

The building would be paid for with bonds that would be paid back over 20 years out of Moorhead’s stormwater utility, wastewater treatment fund and sanitation fund.

Officials said the cost to households through increased fees would be relatively small.

Nonetheless, several council members questioned whether the cost was justified and it was suggested the city look at setting a river stage threshold below which homeowners would have to provide their own protection.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555