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Patrick Springer, Published October 13 2010

Water storage projects on view

Retention – holding water back to reduce floods – is a key ingredient of comprehensive flood control in the Red River Valley.

But that means finding suitable places to store water, finding landowners willing to hold it, and getting governments to approve the projects – all daunting challenges.

Yet a number of water storage projects already are in place, in the works or in discussion throughout the southern Red River Valley.

And water officials will be taking interested members of the public on a guided water retention tour today to view sites upstream of Fargo-Moorhead.

“We want people to know there’s a lot of good stuff going on,” said Lance Yohe, executive director of the Red River Basin Commission, which is sponsoring the tour in coordination with water boards in Minnesota and North Dakota.

The bus tour’s itinerary will visit sites in South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota.

Projects range from the tiny Riverton Township retention site in the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, which holds 269 acre-feet of water west of Barnesville, Minn., to the Maple River Dam, capable of holding 60,000 acre feet.

At a drainage in South Dakota’s Marshall County, the tour will view watersheds that include the 15,000-acre La Belle Creek watershed that empties into Lake Tewaukon at the national wildlife refuge in North Dakota’s Sargent County.

Water officials want to explore several areas that offer potential in Marshall County for larger retention structures.

Another potential site for significant storage lies within the Wild Rice River watershed in North Dakota’s Richland County, where a possible project capable of holding 50,000 acre feet is under review.

By viewing existing projects and potential projects, water officials throughout the valley can “maybe get some idea of what’s appropriate,” said Tom Fischer, chairman of the Cass County Joint Water Resource District, a tour sponsor.

“It’s going to be an interesting tour,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522