Fargo Moorhead Flood Diversion Project

On Thursday 22 May 2014 the US Senate voted to approve the Water Resources and Development Act by 91 votes to 7. The House had previous passed the legislation on Tuesday 20 May 2014.

The bill aims to change how future flood defence and mitigation projects can seek funding, plus aims to make studies for future projects more efficient and accountable by setting time and cost limits and speeding up environmental reviews..

However, significantly for residents of Minnesota and North Dakota, the bill includes authorization for federal funding of up to $846.7 million for a flood diversion projects for the cities of Fargo and Moorhead in the Red River valley. The project is commonly known as the Fargo-Moorhead (FM) Area Diversion Project.

Darrell Vanyo, Chairman of the Flood Diversion Board of Authority, said:

“We are pleased that Congress has acknowledged the necessity of the Diversion Project, and recognized the funding commitments made on a state and local level which are necessary to become a financial partner in the Project. This is one of those milestones we have been working hard to realize.”

According to the project’s website the Fargo-Moorhead (FM) Area Diversion Project is a 20,000 cubic feet per second, 36-mile long, 1,500 foot-wide diversion channel with 32,500 acres of upstream staging.

The plan includes 150,000 acre-feet of upstream staging. The staging area would only be used for flood events exceeding a 10-year event, or a 35-foot event in Fargo.

Fargo Moorhead Flood Diversion Project
Fargo Moorhead Flood Diversion Project Map

The Red River in the Fargo and Moorhead area is renowned for flooding, and in fact, apart from in 2012, has flooded every year since 1993. In fact the Red River has exceeded flood stage in 49 of the past 110 years. A significant flood in the cities of Fargo and Moorhead could lead to more than $10 billion in damages.

Map of potential 100 Year Flood in the Fargo Moorhead area
Map of potential 100 Year Flood in the Fargo Moorhead area
Map of potential 100 Year Flood in the Fargo Moorhead area with completed flood diversion
Map of potential 100 Year Flood in the Fargo Moorhead area with completed flood diversion