Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project - Permit Decision

On February 18, 2016, the DNR received a Dam Safety and Work in Public Waters permit application for the proposed Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project. The Diversion Authority is the Permit Applicant. The Permit Application was provided to 35 federal, state and local governments for a 30-day review. The DNR carefully evaluated the Permit Application against the relevant provisions in Minnesota Statute and Rule. The DNR also evaluated the proposed project against the performance of existing and planned protection (i.e., the No Action Alternative with Emergency Measures).

Permit Decision

The DNR has denied the Diversion Authority's Dam Safety and Work in Public Waters permit.

Major considerations in this decision were:

  • There are alternatives to the proposed project that can provide needed flood protection.
  • There is a lack of consistency with state and local plans.
  • The project has insufficient mitigation.

Findings of Fact Document

Reasoning for the decision can be found in the Findings of Fact document. This is the written explanation of the DNR's decision.

Next Steps

The decision to deny the permit means that the Diversion Authority cannot proceed with the project as it is proposed. The permit decision may be appealed. The Diversion Authority may request a contested case hearing on the decision.

Project Proposal

The proposed project would control flows through the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area via a dam and diversion channel system. Major project design features include a diversion channel, two dams, two embankments, in-town levees and floodwalls, and a 38,400 acre upstream staging area in Minnesota and North Dakota. The two dams would be located upstream of a major population center. The Red River dam would be classified as a Class I, or high hazard, dam.

Environmental Review Process

Prior to permitting, the proposed Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project went through an extensive environmental review process. The initial project proposal was submitted to the DNR in 2012. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared. The Final EIS was deemed adequate by the DNR in June 2016.