The fair treatment of those who are impacted
The Diversion Authority has developed a detailed Mitigation Plan outlining mitigation requirements that will be followed for the Fargo‐Moorhead Area Diversion Project (Project) to address mitigation needs previously identified during studies by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). The plan was submitted to the MDNR and the North Dakota State Water Commission (NDSWC).
The plan outlines the steps the Diversion Authority will take to ensure the fair treatment of people, property and the environment impacted by the project. The Mitigation Plan consists of comprehensive property mitigation and environmental mitigation components. The Mitigation Plan is also a compilation of a series of plans for a variety of topics.
The Diversion Authority is following all federal and state laws related to acquisition of property rights. In addition, the Diversion Authority has established additional protections beyond federal and state requirements for impacted properties in its Mitigation Plan.
The Mitigation Plan is intended to be a living document that will be reviewed and amended periodically as additional information and operations prompt updates.
Overview Of Some Key Elements
Process and Procedure
The Diversion Authority has adopted a thorough process for acquiring property. The mission of the Authority is to acquire necessary property in compliance with State and Federal guidelines and in accordance with the philosophy of being friendly, fair, and flexible to those whose property is required for the project.
The Diversion Authority aims to acquire properties following a time line based on design and construction schedules. That being said, and now that the Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) has been executed with the Federal Government, the Diversion Authority will entertain requests for early acquisition from impacted residences. The intention of this program is to allow residents to be acquired early if they desire.
There are 11 cemeteries upstream of the Diversion Project that may potentially be impacted by varying levels (ranging from 0.1 feet to 8.3 feet) of additional water during major floods due to operation of the Project in a 100-year (one-percent annual chance) flood. Analysis was also completed on these cemeteries for the 500-year event and those impacts are detailed on individual cemetery maps. Additionally, there are 19 cemeteries that currently would flood within the protected area that will now have permanent flood protection due to construction of the Project.
Some of the recommended mitigation steps for cemeteries include protective berms, access changes, debris fencing, anchoring headstones, and/or raising the site. The previously completed cemetery studies can be found here.
Clean Up Plans
Operation of the Project will result in the staging and retention of flood waters upstream of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. The upstream retention area will impact a different amount of acres for each flood event depending on the magnitude of the flood. The Diversion Authority will obtain flowage easements on the properties that are within a defined mitigation area. The flowage easement will compensate property owners for the impacts associated with the Project. However, in recognition that operation of the upstream retention area may cause debris (logs, straw, trash, etc.) to accumulate within and along the edges of the upstream retention area, the Diversion Authority has developed post-operation debris clean-up plans for both private and public properties. The private-lands debris clean-up plan is patterned after the “clean-up week” approached used in the metro area where items to be disposed of are piled up at the curb. The public-lands repair and debris clean-up plan is patterned after the approach FEMA uses for post-disaster damage assessment and reimbursement where local government units are reimbursed for cleanup costs.
The FM Area Diversion Project includes a retention area upstream of the Project. The retention area is a necessary component of the Project, and it will occasionally and temporarily store flood waters. Flowage Easements will be purchased and applied to the properties in the upstream retention area. The value of each flowage easement will be determined through an appraisal that will consider the depth, duration, and frequency of additional flooding, and the highest and best use of the property to determine the market value of the property. For properties on the fringe of the impacted area, the Diversion Authority will offer to pay actual, physical damages after the Project operations as an alternative to encumbering those lands with a flowage easement.
Supplemental Farm Revenue Program
Summer operation of the Project would likely damage growing crops. Even though summer operation is extremely unlikely, the Diversion Authority will adopt a Summer Operation Supplemental Farm Revenue program to provide additional assurance to producers in the upstream retention area. The Program would provide producers with coverage for the risk associated with Project induced flooding on growing crops if the Project operates during summer. The Diversion Authority understands and acknowledges that this program is important to the agricultural community because under these events, it is anticipated that producers will not be able to utilize the federal crop insurance program(s) for damages caused by operation of the Project.
Independent Mitigation Projects
The Diversion Authority has the following independent mitigation projects.
- In-town Levees
- Oxbow-Hickson-Bakkee Ring Levee
- Comstock Ring Levee
- Drayton Dam Improvements
The Diversion Authority will establish an on‐going O&M Funding Program and utilize either sales taxes or a maintenance district, or a combination of both to fund the program. In addition, the Diversion Authority will make sure that all of the mitigation costs outlined in the Mitigation Plan will be eligible for funding through the O&M Funding Program. The O&M Funding Program will also provide a mechanism for funding unforeseen mitigation needs that may arise due to Project operation.
By the Numbers
- Approximately 1,500 total impacted parcels
- Flowage easements on approximately 840 parcels
- Approximately 660 parcels to acquire in fee title
- 1,125 North Dakota parcels
- 375 Minnesota parcels
- 100 total residential structures in the Project Area
- 75 residential structures in the upstream mitigation area