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Dave Olson, Published September 13 2012

Corps now favors cheaper diversion plan that would ease Wilkin, Richland County impacts

MOORHEAD – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined a number of options this morning for how a flood diversion project might be aligned in the Red River Valley, stating it now favors a plan that is cheaper than the current federally recommended plan and one that shifts upstream impacts farther north.

At a presentation in Moorhead, federal and local officials continued to stress that impacts of some kind will be unavoidable if a diversion is to become a reality.

Where those impacts will fall is now the question and the public will have a chance to voice its opinion of alignment options at a meeting tonight that runs from 6 to 9 at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1080 28th Ave. S., in Moorhead.

There will be an open house at 6 p.m., followed by a formal presentation from 7 to 8 p.m. and a question-and-answer period ending at 9 p.m.

At this morning’s meeting, the corps updated local officials on diversion planning and analysis that has occurred since last year.

Highlights include:

- In-town levees that would increase Red River flows through Fargo and Moorhead but reduce the frequency of a diversion having to be used and the length of time it would need to be used.

- Gates on the diversion inlet, which would reduce upstream impacts and provide more flexibility in project operation.

- A technical analysis of alignment options weighing the pros and cons of four options known as: Value Engineering No. 13-A (VE13A); Value Engi-neering No. 13-C (VE13C); North of the Wild Rice/Red River Confluence (NWRRR0); and South of Oxbow.

Corps officials said the agency favors the option known as VE13A, stating it would shave about $53 million off the total cost of the project, eliminate one water storage area now contemplated and eliminate the need to build a structure on Wolverton Creek.

Under that option, upstream impacts in Wilkin and Richland counties would be reduced, but new impacts would appear in areas farther north.

Also, buyouts would continue to be necessary in the communities of Oxbow, Bakke and Hickson.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland both said the option favored by the corps appears to provide advantages.

Voxland stressed, however, that the local Flood Diversion Authority will select an option to pursue only after public input has been received.

That decision is expected to come by mid-October.

See Friday’s Forum for more details.