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Published January 21 2012

Diversion Discussion: Other flood control projects on Red River

FARGO - From levees to diversions, the Red River’s temperamental moods have forced other communities up and down the valley to seek their own forms of permanent flood protection to abate annual flood fights.

Among the existing alternatives, Fargo-Moorhead’s planned diversion to the Red River would by far be the largest, most expensive flood protection project in the valley.

Here’s a look at how the current plans compare to other projects already in place along the Red River:


<•> 2010 metro-area population: 209,000 people

<•> Project: diversion channel, undergoing design and awaiting authorization and funding from Congress

<•> Capacity: 20,000 cubic feet per second, plus 39,000 acres of temporary staging and storage south of the channel to be used only during times of high water

<•> Specs: 35 miles long, about a half-mile wide, and no more than 35 feet deep

<•> Footprint: would cover about 8,000 acres, including removing about 6,900 acres of farmland from operation

<•> Level of protection: 500-year event

<•> Cost (estimated): $1.78 billion


<•> 2010 metro-area population: 753,500 people

<•> Project: Red River Floodway diversion constructed 1962-1968 and expanded 2005-2009

<•> Capacity: Originally 60,000 cfs, expanded to 140,000 cfs

<•> Specs: 30 miles long, up to 1,000 feet wide, and average depth of 30 feet

<•> Level of protection: 700-year event after expansion

<•> Cost: $63 million; expansion cost an extra $665 million

Grand Forks-East Grand Forks

<•> 2010 metro-area population: 98,000 people

<•> Project: levees, floodwalls and a 2,200-acre greenway, completed in 2007

<•> Specs: 8 miles

<•> Level of protection: 250-year event.

<•> Cost: $409 million


<•> 2010 metro-area population: 23,000

<•> Project: Minnesota-side diversion channel, completed in 2005, and permanent levee system in both cities, the final stage to be completed this year

<•> Diversion capacity: 3,500 cfs

<•> Diversion specs: 3.5 miles long, diverting the Otter Tail River to the Red

<•> Level of protection: 100- to 125-year event

<•> Cost (estimated): $62 million total: $41 million for Breckenridge and $21 million for Wahpeton

Join the “Diversion Discussion” at http://diversiondiscussion.areavoices.com/.

Have a question about the proposed Red River diversion, or want to recommend a topic you’d like to see addressed in an upcoming column?

Send an email to Forum reporter Kristen Daum at kdaum@forumcomm.com (Subject: Diversion Discussion) or write to Kristen Daum c/o The Forum, PO Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

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