Land Management Frequently Asked Questions

Find a list of common questions below about land management for the project. If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, reach out to your land agent. If you don’t have a land agent, reach out to the MFDA directly.

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Flowage Easement Questions

Flowage easements must be acquired for land in the upstream mitigation area (UMA), where FM Area Diversion operations may cause additional water on properties. These questions are specific to UMA property owners.
What is a flowage easement?

A flowage easement is an agreement between a landowner and one of the member entities of the Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA). Landowners receive a payment in exchange for giving the MFDA, or its members entities, and/or the MCCJPA, the legal right to periodically and temporarily store floodwater on property when the FM Area Diversion operates.

Why does there need to be a flowage easement on my property?

The MFDA, via its member entities, is required by federal and state regulatory agencies to obtain property rights from property where additional floodwater is periodically or temporarily stored when the FM Area Diversion operates. If your property is in the UMA, it is in an area that will require periodic and temporary floodwater storage.

What does the flowage easement payment cover?

The flowage easement payment compensates landowners for granting the legal right to periodically and temporarily store floodwater on their property, including the loss of development rights, if applicable.

Who will be obtaining the flowage easements?

The member entities of the MFDA, or affiliations thereof, will acquire the flowage easements. In North Dakota, the Cass County Joint Water Resource District (CCJWRD) will acquire the easements. In Minnesota, the City of Moorhead, Clay County or the Moorhead-Clay County Joint Powers Authority (MCCJPA) will acquire the easements.

When can I expect the payment?

The entity applicable for your property (CCJWRD or MCCJPA) will provide you with an Agreement to Acquire a Flowage Easement, which contains the terms of the flowage easement transaction, including payment terms. Once the parties sign the agreement, CCJWRD or MCCJPA will move as quickly as possible to close the transaction, and you will be paid at closing (when the parties sign the flowage easement document). Compensation for a flowage easement is a one-time payment made at the time the flowage easement is acquired. Flowage easements must be on the dominant estate. If there is a lien against the property, the lien holder may receive the flowage easement payment, but the landowner will have less debt as a result.

How often is floodwater going to be stored on my property?

The FM Area Diversion has been modeled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the MFDA to determine how much FM Area Diversion operations would increase floodwater depth on a person’s property compared to the same flood without the FM Area Diversion. This increase in floodwater depth due to the FM Area Diversion is called the “depth difference” and is unique for each property. For example, properties that are closer to the southern embankment or an existing river corridor typically would see depth differences greater and more often than a property on the edge of the UMA. Specific information regarding the depth and duration of additional floodwater on your property is available.

Why are my restrictions different from others going through this process?

The Corps, North Dakota Department of Water Resources and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources all have different flowage easement requirements. Consequently, the UMA has been divided into four mitigation zones. The zones were established based on the applicable regulatory agency requirements and by modeling how much FM Area Diversion operations would increase the floodwater depth on a person’s property compared to the same flood without the FM Area Diversion. Each mitigation zone has slightly different requirements.

Will I need to clean up my land after the water recedes?

The MFDA has committed to assisting property owners with cleanup from impacts caused by FM Area Diversion operations. Programs are available for private and governmental entities, see mitigation program details.

Can I still farm or lease my land?

Yes, the flowage easement allows farming to continue. You will retain the right to farm and lease the land as well as to install drainage. Development, even development of farm-related structures, however, will be restricted.

Will this impact my crop insurance?

The MFDA is committed to providing supplemental protections for crop loss directly related to FM Area Diversion operations that are not covered by federal crop insurance.

Property Acquisitions

The chosen design for the FM Area Diversion will require the MFDA, via its member entities, to acquire land. This may be permanent, as a result of the FM Area Diversion’s path, or temporary, to allow room for construction. The following questions apply to both situations.
What is the process for land acquisition?

Project design engineers identify land parcels that will be impacted by the FM Area Diversion. Appraisals are then scheduled for each parcel based on construction timelines. Independent appraisers conduct a thorough assessment and provide their appraisal reports to the Cass County Joint Water Resource District (CCJWRD) in North Dakota or the Moorhead-Clay County Joint Powers Authority (MCCJPA) in Minnesota, and an offer to purchase is made based upon the appraisal. The offer to purchase serves as the basis for negotiations between the landowners and the land agents hired by MCCJPA and CCJWRD. Once a tentative agreement is reached, it is routed to the CCJWRD or MCCJPA for approval. Following the approval, a closing date is set at which time the property rights necessary are conveyed to the acquiring agency and payment is provided to the landowner.

What if I disagree with the appraisal on my property?

The Metro Flood Diversion Authority, along with the CCJWRD in North Dakota and MCCJPA in Minnesota, contracted with experienced, independent appraisal companies to evaluate impacted properties. While the appraisers weigh many factors in determining each property’s value, we understand there may be factors that may have been overlooked or not available to the appraiser. Therefore, you are encouraged to provide supplemental information regarding your property’s value when you work with your land agent during the negotiation process.

Why couldn’t the MFDA have chosen a route that did not require homes to be moved or demolished?

During the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 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 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.

What resources are available to me if my property is impacted?

Property owners from whom a property right is being acquired will receive payment for their land and structures on it, in accordance with values established by independent appraisers. Occupants who are forced to relocate will be provided the benefits they are eligible to receive through the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act. For those who have an FSA-recognized farmstead or rural business that will be displaced by the project, a Rural Impact Mitigation Program (RIMP) loan may also be available.

Why is my land needed now since the FM Diversion won’t be operational until 2027?

Construction on the FM Area Diversion began several years ago and continues to progress into new areas. For this work to proceed, property must be acquired in time for utilities and structures to be removed before contractors access the land for construction.