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The proposed Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn., flood diversion project cleared another hurdle today, December 20, 2011, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineers signed the Chief’s Report endorsing the Corps’ Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Study on this project.

By signing the report, the Chief is recommending that the diversion project be authorized as described in the final report prepared by the Corps for the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project. Next, the signed report and study will be submitted to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, who will coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget before transmitting a formal, final recommendation to Congress.

A ceremony marking the signing of the report will be held at 1:15 pm on Thursday, Dec. 22, in the City Commission Room at Fargo City Hall. A press conference will follow at 1:30 pm.

The proposed project would involve the construction of a 36-mile long diversion channel located in North Dakota that would direct floodwater around the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The project would temporarily store up to 200,000 acre-feet of flood water immediately upstream of the diversion channel inlet in order to minimize downstream impacts. The plan would remove much of the Fargo-Moorhead area from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regulatory floodplain. If built, the diversion would significantly reduce flood damage and flood risk, but it would not completely eliminate flood risks.

The construction of the diversion project is urgent because flooding in the Red River Valley has become increasingly severe and frequent. The cost of ignoring the flooding problem would be devastating to the approximately 200,000 people in the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. A 500-year event would flood nearly all of Fargo, large portions of Moorhead and West Fargo, and several surrounding communities.