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Published July 10 2012

Diversion could impact drainage in rural areas

KINDRED, N.D. – Initial work to determine the Red River diversion’s impacts on area agriculture indicates regional farmers might see slight benefits to their land in flood scenarios up to a 100-year event.

In a presentation Tuesday night to the Diversion Authority’s agricultural advisory subcommittee, project consultants said they’re designing drains that will be built parallel to the Red River diversion channel, which should provide localized benefits and prevent water from backing up on agricultural land, particularly west of the channel. At various points, those drains will dump into the diversion channel through controlled inlets.

Consultant engineer Lee Beauvais, of the Houston-Moore Group, said the project’s engineers are designing the local drains to ensure that the diversion won’t harm farmland and rural property outside the protected area of the

35-mile-long project.

Because the existing terrain is higher than the proposed diversion channel, water should naturally drain into the diversion, which should also provide occasional benefits to farmers even when there isn’t a major flood, Beauvais said.

Consultants are also studying how rural transportation routes might be affected by the diversion channel, which could be up to a half-mile wide depending on final designs.

During the feasibility study, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looked generally at what bridges or roads might be needed to accommodate rural traffic around the project. Local consultants are now digging deeper into the issue by meeting with township and county officials, emergency responders, school bus drivers and mail delivery services – basic services whose work will be impacted by the diversion footprint.

Kris Bakkegard, also a project engineer with the Houston-Moore Group, said several township roads will likely be severed by the Red River diversion project, but designers are aiming to have a bridge crossing over the channel at least every three to five miles, which the county’s network of roadways should help provide.

Bridges will likely be at least 500 feet long and more than 30 feet wide, a width comparable to current county road bridges that tend to accommodate farm equipment, Bakkegard said, adding that specific dimensions have yet to be determined.

Bakkegard said consultants are still working out some issues of connectivity between township and country roads to make commuting as smooth as possible for rural residents. Ultimate traffic routes near the diversion will be dependent on the channel’s alignment, which likely won’t be finalized for at least another year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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