Members of the Flood Diversion Authority are considering a list of options for changes to the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project that would save several million dollars in project costs, reduce upstream impacts and reduce risk of summer time project operation. The technical options are a result of value engineering and other studies as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers design process. The Diversion Authority also led other studies to evaluate its potential to benefit the project.
The option studies that were led by the Corps are:
- Value Engineering #13: Option A (Cost savings compared to Federally Recommended Plan: $53 million)
- Value Engineering #13: Option C (Cost savings compared to Federally Recommended Plan: $40 million)
The option studies that were led by the Diversion Authority are:
- North of the Wild Rice/Red River Confluence (Cost savings compared to Federally Recommended Plan: $6 million)
- South of Oxbow (Cost: $29 million higher than Federally Recommended Plan)
A map illustration of the options is available here.
A thorough technical evaluation of the options was conducted by the Corps of Engineers, local consultants, technical staff, and the program management consultant. These options, detailed to the Authority and in two public meetings on Sept. 13, come after several potential alignment adjustments were developed and reviewed.
The technical evaluation included ranking the options against seven factors, including: technical risks (length and height of embankment, number of structures requiring human intervention, etc.), the ability to implement the project, the number of structures, environmental impacts, number of acres impacted, floodplain impacts, and transportation impacts.
All of the alignment options include maintaining the 200,000 acre-feet of upstream retention to mitigate downstream impacts, as determined to be required during the feasibility study.
The Top-Ranking Option: VE13-A
The southern alignment refinement option for the diversion channel upstream of the Sheyenne River, which ranked highest by the Corps and the other members of the evaluation team, is titled “Value Engineering #13: Option A”. VE13-A includes an improved southern alignment, increasing Red River flows through Fargo-Moorhead during times of severe flooding, and a gated inlet structure.
VE13-A offers numerous advantages over the former Federally Recommended Plan. These advantages include:
- The elimination of the Wolverton Creek Hydraulic Structure and Storage Area 1, which reduces the cost to the project;
- A reduction in staging elevation;
- A decrease in the length of the tieback embankments; and
- A decrease in the channel length between the Red River and the inlet structure.
VE13-A has the lowest risk, the lowest cost, and is expected to be the most acceptable under the federal review process for the project.
VE13-A, along with increased flows through town and the gated inlet control structure, results in an estimated cost savings of $53 million. However, the new southern alignment will impact approximately 35 new residential structures. Specific property impacts will be defined in the coming months and shared with property owners. Also, the communities of Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke remain a buyout under this option.
Increased River Flows through Fargo-Moorhead
It was concluded early in the analysis that allowing more flow through the cities than originally determined in the Corps feasibility study would cause the proposed diversion project to operate less frequently, reduce how long the water is staged, improve fish passage mitigation requirements, and reduce the risks to crops.
Allowing a flow up to a stage of 35 feet through town will reduce the frequency
- Diversion Authority Finance Committee and Board Chair recognize Sen. John Hoeven for Efforts to Move Low-Interest Project Funding Forward — May 7, 2020
- ND State Engineer Approves Mitigation Plan for FM Area Diversion Project; Document outlines how Project will Mitigate Impacted Properties — June 2, 2020
- USACE FY 2020 Work Plan Provides $100 Million for Project — February 10, 2020
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2021 Work Plan Includes $115 Million Appropriation for FM Area Diversion Project — January 21, 2021