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Army Corps of EngineersThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released its draft scoping decision document and scoping environmental worksheet for a 30-day public review period April 15. The Minnesota DNR is requesting comments on these documents prior to preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

The purpose of the scoping document is to identify the environmental effects and project alternatives that will be addressed in the state EIS for the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood damage reduction project. The state will evaluate the proposed project in accordance with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act.

The scoping documents are available at:http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/fm_flood_risk/index.html.

The Minnesota DNR determined that the proposed water control structure on the Red River would be classified as a Class I Dam under Minnesota’s dam safety permitting rules. In order to permit the construction of a new Class I dam, the Minnesota DNR must independently conclude there are no other alternatives that would meet the project purpose. The state EIS will develop the information needed to support the DNR’s permitting decision.

The state EIS will consider the changes made to the proposed project since the completion of the final EIS. The changes include revised channel and embankment alignments, gates on the diversion channel inlet structure and construction of levees and floodwalls along the Red River through the Fargo-Moorhead area. These changes reduce both the length of dam embankments and the frequency of the project operation, which results in less frequent impacts to agricultural, existing structures, acres of land in Richland and Wilkin counties and the environment. The Minnesota DNR will utilize existing Corps and Diversion Authority documentation to the extent practicable in the development and analysis of the state EIS and develop new information to address issues identified during the scoping process.

The Corps is simultaneously preparing a supplemental Environmental Assessment to document the changes made since the federal EIS was published in July 2011. The supplemental EA will be available this summer for public review and comment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Corps and the Diversion Authority will continue to provide information and assistance to the Minnesota DNR to facilitate the state’s EIS process. In an effort to remain transparent and open about the planning process, the DNR and Corps have agreed to coordinate public communication in a way that minimizes confusion between the goals and content of the state and federal environmental documents to be made available for public review.

The Corps considered and evaluated a wide range of alternatives in the federal EIS. The Corps and Diversion Authority are confident that the diversion project, including a Class I dam, is the only viable option for permanent large-scale flood risk reduction for the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area.

Written comments can be submitted by mail to Stuart Arkley, Minnesota DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025, faxed to 651-296-1811 or emailed to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us. Email comments should include “Fargo Moorhead” in the subject line and a name and mailing address so future notices and documents can be provided. The public review and comment period will end May 15, 2013.

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