Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project

EIS Preparation Notice

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project (Project) as proposed by the Flood Diversion Board of Authority (Diversion Authority).  Diversion Authority members include the City of Fargo and the City of Moorhead; Cass County in North Dakota, Clay County in Minnesota; the Cass County Joint Water Resources District; and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District.  It operates under a joint powers agreement to develop the Project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has partnered with the Diversion Authority to plan, secure funding for, and construct the Project.  Operation of the Project would be the responsibility of the Diversion Authority. 

Final Scoping Decision Document Available

A Final Scoping Decision Document (FSDD) has been prepared for the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project (Project).  It follows the Draft Scoping Decision Document (DSDD) and Scoping Environmental Assessment Worksheet (SEAW), which were released for public comment on April 15, 2013, and considers the public comments on those documents.  The purpose of the FSDD is to identify the environmental effects and project alternatives that will be assessed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  A tentative schedule for the environmental review process is included.

Summary of Final Scoping Decision:  The EIS will address the following issues:  potential environmental hazards due to past site uses; cover types; fish, wildlife and ecologically sensitive resources; nearby resources; compatibility with plans and land use regulations; impact on infrastructure and public services; cumulative potential effects; hydrology; socioeconomic impacts; dam safety; physical impacts on water resources; water-related land use management district; and mitigation effectiveness.  A more detailed description of each of these areas can be found in the Final Scoping Decision Document.

The EIS will evaluate the following alternatives:

  • Base No Action Alternative: Includes the potential flood risk reduction impact of already completed and currently funded projects such as levee construction and property buyouts. This option does not include emergency measures currently being pursued in the Project area as necessary due to flooding.
  • No Action Alternative (with Emergency Measures): Includes the potential flood risk reduction impact of already completed and currently funded projects such as levee construction and property buyouts. This alternative also includes emergency measures currently being pursued in the Project area as necessary due to flooding and includes the definition of flood fighting measure identified in the USACE Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (FFREIS).
  • Distributed Storage Alternative: Includes flood barriers, watershed flood storage, wetland/grassland restoration, and nonstructural measures that combined may achieve the desired flood protection without a control structure or diversion channel.
  • Northern Alignment Alternative: Moves the control structure and embankments north of the alignment in the proposed Project. This would potentially lessen social impacts in and around Comstock, Richland County and Wilkin County, but it would increase social impacts between the proposed alignment and the Northern Alignment Alternative.

EIS Schedule. The tentative EIS schedule includes Draft EIS publication in August 2014, Final EIS publication in November 2014, and determination of EIS adequacy in December 2014.

Final Scoping Decision Documents

Draft Scoping Decision Documents

Project Setting

The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan area is located within the area from approximately 12 miles west to 6 miles east of the Red River and from 20 miles north to 20 miles south of Interstate Highway 94.

This area has a high risk of flooding. The Red River, Wild Rice River (N.D.), Sheyenne River, Maple River, Lower Rush River and the Rush River all contribute to the flood risk. Average annual national economic flood damages in the metropolitan area are estimated to be more than $194.8 million, and a failure of emergency flood measures could result in loss of life.

Flooding in Fargo-Moorhead typically occurs in late March and early April as a result of spring snowmelt. Flooding poses a significant risk of damage to urban and rural infrastructure and disrupts transportation throughout the metropolitan area. The Fargo-Moorhead area is a regional center for healthcare, education, government, and commerce. Infrastructure at risk in the Fargo-Moorhead area includes several Regional medical centers, three college campuses, and city and county government headquarters offices.

The stated purpose of the Project is to "reduce flood risk, flood damages and flood protection costs related to flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area."

Project Summary

As proposed by the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Diversion Board of Authority, the Project design features include, but are not limited to, a 30-mile long diversion channel, a 6-mile long connecting channel, 12 miles of tie-back embankments, 4 miles of overflow embankment, levee/floodwall features in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota. Operation of the constructed features would raise flood stages on approximately 33,000-acres within a 60-square mile (38,400-acre) staging area. Flows would be controlled via two hydraulic structures, one on the Red River and one on the Wild Rice River. The hydraulic structure on the Red River would require a Dam Safety permit from the DNR. The Wild Rice River structure would be located in North Dakota and not subject to Minnesota permit requirements.

The DNR has determined that the proposed water control structure on the Red River would be classified as a Class I Dam under the State's Dam Safety permitting rules (MN Rules part 6115.0340). Therefore, the DNR must produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed project as required by MN Rules part 4410.4400, subpart 18. The State will use the EIS to assess the potential for significant environmental impacts from the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Reduction Project (Project). An environmental analysis and project alternatives analysis will be performed in accordance with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The water control structure would need a DNR Dam Safety permit prior to construction. The DNR will utilize the USACE documentation to the extent practicable during the State's environmental review process.

Additional Information

Note: The following links are to external sites. They are not maintained by the DNR and the content is not verified by the DNR.

Background information about the federal EIS and federal feasibility study can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site.

The Flood Diversion Board of Authority consists of the cities of Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN, along with Cass County, ND, Clay County, MN, the Cass County Joint Water Resources District, and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District. The Diversion Authority and its members worked with the USACE on the federal EIS and Feasibility Study and they continue to work with the Minnesota DNR in developing information for the State EIS. They maintain a Web site with Diversion Authority information and some information from the federal EIS process.

Questions regarding the State EIS can be sent to:

Jill Townley, EIS Project Manager
Environmental Review Unit
Division of Ecological and Water Resources
Minnesota DNR
500 Lafayette Road
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155-4025
Fax: 651-296-1811