Project Revisions - Plan B
On March 16, 2018, the Diversion Authority submitted a permit application for a revised Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project, known as Plan B. The Plan B Project changes the alignment of the southern embankment alignment, the eastern tieback and the western tieback. Plan B allows more flows through town. These component changes result in a new inundation and staging area, and result in modifications to, and elimination of, some project structures, such as the Comstock Ring Levee. The DNR has determined that these changes are "substantial and may affect the potential significant adverse environmental effects of the project". As such, the DNR has determined that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is required for the revised Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project.
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
The DNR will prepare the SEIS to analyze modifications in the revised Fargo Moorhead flood diversion project proposal. The DNR invites comments on the scope of the SEIS through June 11, 2018. The DNR will conduct the SEIS work concurrently with its review of the Diversion Authority's permit application for its revised project.
The proposed Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project is designed to divert flood waters around Fargo, North Dakota, Moorhead, Minnesota and surrounding metropolitan areas. It would control flows through the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area by placing high hazard dams on the Red River and Wild Rice River. The dams, along with two tieback embankments, would then stage water in an upstream staging area. Water would drain from the upstream staging area into a 30-mile diversion channel around the metropolitan area that would outlet north of the metropolitan area.
The DNR prepared a state Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Diversion Authority's previously-project project. That EIS process concluded in June 2016 with the DNR's EIS adequacy determination.
On February 18, 2016, prior to completion of state environmental review, the DNR received an application for a Dam Safety and Public Waters Work permit for the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project, listing the Flood Diversion Board of Authority (the Diversion Authority) as the applicant. Based on the October 2016 Findings of Fact for the Dam Safety and Public Water Work Permit application, the DNR denied the permit application for the proposed project.
In early 2017, the Diversion Authority informally coordinated with DNR staff regarding the permit denial by engaging in work sessions aimed at addressing the DNR's concerns and discussing potential options moving forward. Later, in 2017, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton created a joint task force to discuss flood control options and make recommendations. The task force created a technical advisory group that included engineers and staff from the Diversion Authority and the DNR. The technical advisory group presented the task force with engineering options to address concerns about project impacts.
After considering the recommendations of the task force and technical advisory group, and engaging in additional discussions with the DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, the Diversion Authority submitted a permit application for a revised Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project, known as Plan B.
As required by state law, the DNR will not decide on the permit application until the SEIS is deemed adequate. The SEIS adequacy determination is not a project approval. It is a decision about whether the supplemental review was completed properly. The DNR is expected to complete the SEIS and adequacy determination in fall 2018. A permit decision is expected soon after that determination.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - background information about the federal EIS and federal feasibility study
- Flood Diversion Board of Authority - diversion authority information
Jill Townley, EIS Project Manager
Environmental Review Unit
Ecological and Water Resources Division
500 Lafayette Road
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155-4025