It is anticipated that the FM Area Diversion will reach substantial completion in 2027, which means it will be operational in time for potential flooding that spring.
The FM Area Diversion is designed to protect against a 100-year flood. For perspective, the record crest in 2009 was a 50-year flood. The FM Area Diversion also provides fightable protection for a 500-year flood. That means that in the event of a significant flood, we will be able to supplement the FM Area Diversion with temporary measures, such as clay dikes, to protect the metro area.
Flood insurance requirements are based upon maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The first step in certifying that property is protected from a 100-year flood event is to file a Conditional Letter of Map Revision, or CLOMR, with FEMA, outlining how a project, as proposed to be built, will meet the minimum National Flood Insurance Program requirements. FEMA issued a CLOMR for the FM Area Diversion in September 2020. Once the FM Area Diversion is ready to operate, the MFDA will ask FEMA to look at its flood map and lift the insurance requirement since the FM Area Diversion will provide certifiable protection for up to a 100-year flood. Upon certification, the flood insurance requirement can be lifted with a Letter of Map Revision, or LOMR. For more information, see the before-and-after floodplain maps and the insurance status updates.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a feasibility study beginning in 2008 that looked at dozens of options. During this study, the Corps and community members sought to achieve a balance: providing as much protection to as many as possible while keeping environmental, cultural, financial, upstream and downstream impacts and property impacts in mind. The concept of a retention area with a diversion channel came out of this study.
This concept was further refined by the Governors’ Task Force in 2017 to better balance the benefits and impacts in Minnesota and North Dakota. The location of the flood control project was finalized in December 2017, when the Minnesota DNR issued a permit for the FM Area Diversion.
The Red River Valley Alliance, the public-private partnership developer for the stormwater diversion channel of the FM Area Diversion, is a consortium of three international companies: Acciona, Shikun & Binui USA and North American Construction Group. Each company brings significant but varying experience in major infrastructure projects. Acciona’s focus is on assisting in the creation of infrastructure projects that address climate issues and improve the quality of life for communities around the world. Shikun & Binui USA specializes in complex infrastructure, specifically within a public-private partnership (P3) model. North American Construction Group is Canada’s largest independently-owned construction fleet, specializing in the equipment needs for heavy infrastructure projects.
This number will vary based on the number of components being constructed at a given time. The Red River Valley Alliance and its design and construction arm, ASN Constructors, anticipate slowly ramping up to about 800 workers at the peak of their construction on the stormwater diversion channel and its associated infrastructure before lessening as components reach completion.
The Corps, through the use of contractors, anticipates using 150-200 workers on its portion of the FM Area Diversion.
The Red River Valley Alliance’s apprenticeship program will provide more than 450,000 hours of training, or about 45 positions, for those who wish to become a laborer or operator. They are also working with their subcontractors to provide training in other skilled areas.
An economic impact study is underway, and results will be provided once available.
As part of the project agreement with the Red River Valley Alliance, it will provide operations and maintenance for the stormwater diversion channel of the FM Area Diversion for 30 years after completion of the stormwater diversion channel.
The Red River of the North flows north, across the border into Canada, where Winnipeg has its own floodway to protect its community. As part of a federal treaty, the Corps and the MFDA are committed to ensuring the FM Area Diversion results in no increase in the elevation of the Red River at the Canadian border during FM Area Diversion operations. The Corps and the MFDA are also committed to ensuring the FM Area Diversion has less than a 0.1-foot river increase at Drayton, in northeastern North Dakota, during FM Area Diversion operations.
The MFDA’s 13-member board consists of appointed representatives from partners who work with the MFDA: the City of Fargo, Cass County, City of Moorhead, Clay County, City of West Fargo and Cass County Joint Water Resource District. See the current members.
The FM Area Diversion comprehensive project will cost roughly $3 billion to build. For more information on the different funding and financing pieces, see How It Is Funded.
The MFDA developed a multi-faceted financial plan that includes a mix of sales tax revenues, low-interest loans, and federal and state appropriations. Learn more about the funding pieces.
The design of the FM Area Diversion has been focused on limiting potential impacts to the environment by:
These efforts can be found in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the FM Area Diversion, on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website and in the MFDA Adaptative Mitigation and Management Plan.
The FM Area Diversion will protect about 235,000 people throughout the greater Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. This includes their property, homes and businesses. This map shows how the floodplain is anticipated to change once the FM Area Diversion is in place.
During the Corps’ feasibility study and through the Governors’ Task Force, great efforts were made to minimize the direct impact on homes, and the groups tried to balance all impacts, including the impact to people’s homes. However, the system still needed to function hydrologically and work with the area’s existing topography. Due to the region’s topography and the volume of water associated with the major floods this project is designed to protect against, it was impossible to avoid removal of certain homes in the path of the project.
Independent companies conduct appraisals on properties that have been identified as being impacted by the FM Area Diversion. The appraisals conducted by independent appraisers are used as the basis for negotiating with the landowners to acquire the property rights necessary for the FM Area Diversion. The property owner, if not satisfied with the offer based on the appraisal, is encouraged to provide any additional supporting information that may further impact the value of their home along with a counteroffer. In North Dakota, the Cass County Joint Water Resource District completes the acquisitions, and in Minnesota, it falls under the authority of the Moorhead-Clay County Joint Powers Authority.
Our Interactive Lands Map allows you to search by address, property ID or OIN to see where property lies in relation to the FM Area Diversion’s footprint.