The proposed Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project has received another critical approval. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Ms. Jo-Ellen Darcy, has signed a Record of Decision (ROD) on the Project’s Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Study (FEIS).

The action concludes the federal environmental review process. The recommended Project now becomes one of a select few Corps-recognized projects across the country, but will need Congressional action to receive authorization and funding. “We’ve crossed several hurdles so far, but this was one of the biggest to date,” says Darrell Vanyo, Chair of the Flood Diversion Authority. “We are very pleased that we’re able to continue the very important work of planning flood protection for the F-M area.”

Congress could authorize the Project later in 2012. After authorization, the Corps and the local sponsors, represented by the Diversion Authority, will sign a partnership agreement which will allow construction to begin when Congress provides construction funds. If authorization and the project partnership agreement occur in 2012, construction could begin shortly afterward and is expected to take several years to complete.

The Diversion Project enjoys the support of each of the members of Congress representing North Dakota and Minnesota in the Red River Valley. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, John Hoeven, and Kent Conrad; and Representatives Collin Peterson and Rick Berg; all asked President Obama to include design funding for the Diversion Project in his recent budget request to Congress. “We recently met again with our Congressional representatives in Washington, and they all hold this Project as a high priority,” says Dennis Walaker, Mayor of Fargo.

The signing of the ROD follows clearance of the Project by the Office of Management and Budget, and the signing of the Corps’ Chief’s Report in December which recommended that the Diversion Project be authorized as described in the final report prepared by the Corps.

The proposed project involves the construction of a 36-mile long diversion channel located in North Dakota that would direct floodwater around the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The Diversion 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. When built, the diversion project will significantly reduce flood damage and flood risk for the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area.

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. Extreme flood events are possible, as evidenced by the flooding along the Missouri and Souris Rivers in 2011. An extreme flood beyond the 2009 flood of record could flood nearly all of Fargo, large portions of Moorhead and West Fargo, and several surrounding communities.

The Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project is a joint effort between the Diversion Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.