ST. PAUL, Minn. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, will follow separate but coordinated environmental review processes for the proposed Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn., flood diversion project.
The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority board endorsed two key design changes to the project on Oct. 11. These changes include adding adjustable gates on the diversion inlet channel and increasing the Red River flows through the Fargo-Moorhead downtowns to a Fargo stage of 35 feet by constructing new levees and floodwalls and improving existing levees.
These changes will require public review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Corps will publish an Environmental Assessment to supplement the federal Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, signed in April 2012. At the same time the Minnesota DNR will continue the scoping process for a state EIS, taking into account the project changes.
“The Minnesota DNR is including the project changes in its scoping process started earlier this year, while the Corps of Engineers is supplementing the environmental review it completed in 2011. Both agencies will make efforts to ensure there is good communication to the public and that confusion between these two actions is minimized,” said Brett Coleman, Corps of Engineers project manager.
The National Environmental Policy Act and the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act each require different public review processes for the proposed project. The Corps and DNR are working together, as well as with the local sponsors, to ensure consistent descriptive information is presented to the public, although the conclusions of the federal and state review processes may differ.
The Minnesota DNR must prepare a Minnesota EIS for the project to comply with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act. The first step in the state’s EIS process is to assess the scope of issues to be addressed in the state EIS.
The federal and state processes both require public review and comment periods. During these times, the Corps and the DNR each plan to hold meetings to gather public input.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, serves the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. It contributes around $175 million to the five-state district economy. The 700 employees work at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.
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