The F-M Area Diversion Project’s Staging Area immediately upstream of Fargo-Moorhead is an essential part of the Project. Without it, the amount of water which would pass through the Fargo-Moorhead area during times of severe flooding, and the corresponding impacts downstream, could not be managed adequately. However, the placement of additional water retention projects upstream could lessen the frequency in which the Diversion’s Staging Area would need to be used.
In addition to funding the Halstad, MN Upstream Retention (HUR) study by the Red River Basin Commission, the Diversion Authority has pledged $25 million to upstream retention projects, and is committed to retention as a means to reduce the impacts from the Project.
“Retention located in the right places will strengthen the Diversion Project and take water away from the Staging Area during times of severe flooding,” said Rodger Olson, Diversion Authority member. “If I didn’t believe in retention, I wouldn’t be on the Cass County Joint Water Resource District board. The benefits of retention are huge. We’ll continue to promote those in my water district. We have excellent support on a county and state level, and from the Red River joint board.”
Clearly, the benefits of retention are understood by many. “We took upper Maple River Dam to an assessment vote,” Olson continued. “It passed 80% to 20%. There was tremendous support for that, and the 80% that supported it include people who have land in retained area that’s going to hold water. That’s just about unheard of.”
Another agency that’s been active in developing retention sites is Cass County. “Cass County just distributed $1.7 million for flood retention projects, and a large share of that is going to projects that are not in this immediate area, but are in Steele, Barnes, northwestern Cass and southern Cass counties,” said Ken Pawluk, Diversion Authority member. “This is on top of the roughly two dozen or more retention projects that Cass County has in place, and we are actively pursuing others.”
“One benefit of retention is to reduce the impacts in the staging area, and when you look at it with that perspective, it really helps to clarify the things we can do,” said Pawluk. “I think most of us feel you cannot retain-away a major flood, but by putting retention in place, we’re going to continue to minimize impacts, just like we’ve done by increasing the water flow through Fargo-Moorhead in the Diversion Project.”