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One question asked frequently about the F-M Area Diversion Project is, “Is there a Plan B?”

“Through the extensive federal process of producing our Environmental Impact Statement, we evaluated a multitude of potential alternatives,” said Brett Coleman, Corps of Engineers Project Manager. “As each alternative was studied further, they were dismissed. There is no ‘Plan B’. From a federal perspective, only one plan meets the objectives set.”

The $1.8 billion Diversion Project is a 36-mile long diversion channel with 32,500 acres of upstream staging. This plan was chosen after years of diligent study by several experts, including the Corps of Engineers; and public input and joint cooperation between the city of Fargo; the city of Moorhead; Cass County, North Dakota; Clay County, Minnesota; the Cass County Joint  Water Resource District; and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District.

The results of the Corps of Engineers’ study were the sizeable Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement and Supplemental Environmental Assessment reports on the Diversion Project. They did not reveal an adequate “Plan B”.

“It’s the plan that’s been authorized by Congress for construction, so that further supports that we have a single plan to move forward with from a Federal perspective,” said Terry Williams, Corps of Engineers Project Manager.

Another question raised often: why can’t permanent flood protection for Fargo and Moorhead be obtained with levees, rather than a Diversion Project?

The use of levees will improve the performance of the Diversion Project, but cannot replace the Project. “We looked at a levee plan during feasibility and it does not meet the purpose and need set forth by the Sponsors and the Corps of Engineers,” said Williams. “It wouldn’t provide the reliable 100-year certification that a diversion would provide. Once you reach the capacity of a levee system, you’re done. A diversion is more robust.”

In addition, the Diversion Project routes flood flows from the Sheyenne, Maple, Rush and Lower Rush rivers around the F-M area. “We’re able to capture those flows and route them around the communities. With a levee plan, that would not be possible,” said Coleman.
The diversion with upstream staging plan is the best possible engineering solution, and the safest and most reliable plan for existing infrastructure and population centers.

Related articles:

How Intown Levees Improve the Diversion Project

Why Retention Alone Is Not Enough

42.5 Feet Is Not Enough