Dozens of landowners were among a crowd of more than 200 people who attended a public meeting to learn more about a proposal to build a ring levee for the communities of Oxbow, Bakke and Hickson, ND. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Diversion Authority hosted the meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at Bennett Elementary School in south Fargo.
In addition to the public landowner meeting, the Corps of Engineers held more than 75 individual meetings with landowners from Tuesday-Thursday, January 8-10.
The public meeting focused on the specific properties impacted and sought local input on whether a ring levee is the preferred course of action. The ring levee would protect the communities from water which would be stored in the area when the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project operates during times of severe flooding.
The areas within the ring dike would have protection well in excess of a 500-year flood. Regarding this level of protection for Oxbow residents, Mark Bittner, Director of Engineering for the City of Fargo, recalled a discussion he had with Jim Nyhof, Mayor of Oxbow. “‘Mark’, he said, ‘I think we deserve the same type of protection you’re building for Fargo,'” Bittner recounted. “That’s what we’re attempting to achieve here. You’ve seen us do quite a bit of work in Fargo ahead of the Diversion. All of this work we’re doing is compatible with the Diversion, complementary and needed. It’s also affordable. We can build that.”
Some have asked why the Diversion Authority can’t both build the levee and acquire the interior lots that would be protected. “We are proposing to do exactly what we’re doing in Fargo,” Bittner said. “We are proposing to acquire those lots that can’t be protected, and leave those lots and houses that are protected by the levee. It’s not financially feasible for us to do both. We’d love to do everything for everybody but we just can’t afford that.”
The ring dike would generally be between 9 and 12 feet high, with some areas potentially being higher depending on determination of a final alignment. The ring dike would also dramatically reduce the number of home buyouts needed to build the Diversion Project.
Corps of Engineers and Diversion Authority Representatives outlined various aspects of the ring levee concept at the public meeting. Among the messages presented:
- The levee would be an earthen berm.
- Public access to the Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke Communities would remain the same as those communities have today.
- County Roads 81 and 18 would be raised to reach I-29.
- The project is designed with similar slopes to existing highways.
- Schnell Drive and Riverbend Road would be impacted.
- County Road 25 would be affected by the southern replacement area.
- An evacuation plan would be developed.
- Drainage would be designed so that communities wouldn’t experience flooding from rain events.
- A pump station would pump interior drainage to the river during high water events.
- Sewer and water services would continue at their present levels.
- There is a potential for community trails or recreation features.
- Any trees or landscaping must be located at least 15 feet from the levee.
Video of the presentations given at the landowner meeting is available in the Video Library of fmdiversion.com. Official answers to questions posed at the public meeting will be posted later in January in the Oxbow/Hickson/Bakke Ring Levee Option FAQ section. Pdf files of the Corps of Engineers presentations given at the meeting are available for download in the Technical Documents section.
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- Diversion Authority Releases 30-minute Documentary about Flooding Impacts and Living with the Red River — April 21, 2020
- Interstate 29 Road Raise Project Ready for Construction — November 3, 2020 https://fmdiversion.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/I-29-Project-Map.png
- BRRWD grants permit for FM Area Diversion Project — November 6, 2020