Flooding along the Red River in North Dakota has repeatedly damaged the Fargo-Moorhead area, including major floods in 1997, 2009 and 2011. The Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project will prevent catastrophic flooding with a combination of river control structures, floodwalls and levees, mitigation areas and a 30-mile-long diversion channel. The $2.75 billion project is funded by a partnership consisting of local sponsors, the federal government and the states of Minnesota and North Dakota. The diversion channel portion of the project is being procured as a public-private partnership, and for every $0.35 of investment, $1 will be protected within the metro area.
After the project stalled in 2017 during a lawsuit, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton appointed a 16-member task force, eight each from North Dakota and Minnesota, to reach an agreement on a new “Plan B” proposal for the project and resume progress. The task force members represented business leaders, local elected officials and upstream and downstream representatives to fully include diverse perspectives on achieving flood protection for the region.
More than one-fifth of North Dakota’s population, or more than 170,000 citizens, resides within the metro area protected by the FM Area Diversion Project. Once completed, the project will allow the Red River to flow through the metro area at an elevation of up to 37 feet. Flood stage in Fargo is 18 feet, and major flood stage is 30 feet.
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