Fargo Moorhead Diversion

Land Acquisition: Frequently Asked Questions

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General Project

Land Acquisition Process

General Impacts/Benefits

Staging/Storage Impacts

Community Impacts


Staging/Storage Impacts


Where do these farmers living for several generations pick up the pieces and find places to start new farmsteads?

Policies in the current project plan anticipate the following criteria will be applied to land acquisition and mitigation in the staging and storage areas:


  • Residential and Commercial Structures
    • With the project in place, those areas that would have greater than 3 feet of inundation for the 1 percent event would be acquired.
    • Areas having 1 to 3 feet of inundation would be evaluated for non-structural measures, such as ring levees, or elevating structures.  Acquisition may also be considered in these areas should a risk and safety analysis indicate these measures to be inappropriate.
    • Flowage easements would be purchased for areas that would have inundation less than 1 foot.
  • Farmsteads
    • Generally, the same criteria outlined above regarding residential and commercial structures would apply to farmsteads.  However, farmsteads will be given additional consideration based on depth of flooding, duration of the flood event, and access.  In some circumstances, it may be viable to provide a ring levee, or to elevate the farmstead structures (to provide protection to a level of greater than 3 feet and allow the farmstead to remain as an active operation).
    • Options would be considered on a case by case basis (with an emphasis on maintaining the farmstead as an active operation, should the owner desire to do so).  However, where flooding would exceed 3 feet, the landowner would first be offered the acquisition option.
  • Relocation Assistance Program
    • Most individuals, families, businesses, or farms displaced as a result of the Fargo- Moorhead Diversion Project meeting the constructive occupancy (or length of occupancy) requirements shall be provided with relocation assistance services for the purpose of locating comparable replacement property to the displaced property owner.  The relocation assistance program and supplemental payments provided by the program are separate and in addition to the fair-market-value for which a property owner is justly compensated.
  • Agricultural Lands
    • All agricultural land not within the footprint of flood protection elements can continue to be farmed.  As currently designed, it is anticipated the project may be operated once every ten years on average during spring flooding.  From historical information is it anticipated the project will be operated very rarely, if ever, during summer flood events.  Flowage easements will be acquired for land within the anticipated staging area.

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If I am in the Staging/Storage areas, can I retain ownership of my land recognizing that restrictions would be placed on it preventing any placements of structures on the property?

Yes.  A property owner may retain ownership of the land recognizing restrictions would be in place preventing placement of any structures on the property.  The land could be used for agricultural, recreational, and similar uses.  A flowage easement would be purchased from the property owner to compensate for the impacts anticipated due to the project.  A property by property analysis will be conducted to ensure that the specifics of each parcel are taken into account when determine the appropriate mitigation.

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Question How were the land acquisition costs in the Staging Area estimated for this project?  Do they truly reflect the rising land costs evident from some of the recent sales in the area?

The land acquisition costs included in the Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement were established by using current market gross appraisals. They were used for planning purposes and will not be the basis for the determination of just compensation during the implementation of the project.  Please refer to P7 in the Land Acquisition Process section for an explanation of how just compensation is determined.

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Question Will farmers qualify for crop insurance?

According to the USDA, if farmers can plant before the late planting date then federal crop insurance is available. Rules for a crop planted after the final planting date are in accordance with federal crop insurance policies.  If they can’t plant because of operation of the Diversion, they will not qualify for crop insurance.  The Diversion Authority is researching the availability of insurance that could mitigate the risks of not being able to plant because of operation of the diversion.

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Question What are my liabilities if my property is determined to have asbestos or other HTRW issues?  What are the owner requirements for removal of underground storage tanks and environmental cleanup of property that is purchased in conjunction with this project?

The Diversion Authority, acting on behalf of the non-federal sponsor, will be responsible for any costs associated with clean-up or abatement of asbestos, or other hazardous, toxic, or radioactive wastes, provided such materials are not the result of any unlawful disposal activity, in which case the property owner could be held responsible for the non-federal sponsor related clean-up costs associated with their property.

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Question Would a basin wide retention option make the dam unnecessary?

Modeling has indicated that approximately 150,000 acre-feet of water will need to be stored in close vicinity to the Fargo-Moorhead Metro area flood risk management project to nearly eliminate downstream impacts associated with the diversion.  It has been determined that upstream storage in close proximity to the project is the most efficient and effective.  Further, it has been determined that significantly more upstream storage would be required if it was distributed farther from the project.  Some estimates suggest that 400,000-600,000 acre-feet of storage would be required if provided in distributed upstream sites.  A system of flood storage sites would need to be implemented in many small increments over a very large geographic area over an extended period of time.  Such a system would undoubtedly impact more acres of land than the recommended plan. 

That being said, basin-wide retention should continue to be pursued, as retention is beneficial to areas immediately downstream of the storage areas, and retention may be beneficial to downstream flood risk, as well.

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Question Did the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources approve a Dam Permit for the Project, for damming water?

It is too early in the process to apply for any permits from Minnesota DNR.  We are in the scoping process for a Minnesota State Environmental Impact Statement.  Once the Minnesota Environmental Impact Statement document is complete, we will have the information needed to apply for any necessary Minnesota permits.

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Question Will the project pay to improve the road network in the Staging Area to ensure emergency and remaining property owner access during high water conditions?

Access by emergency vehicles and property owners during high water conditions is recognized as an important consideration.  However, sufficient discussion has not occurred to date to arrive at a policy related to road improvements.  The response to this question will be updated as a policy is developed.

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Question Will the project pay for post event maintenance and repair of roads that are under water during high water conditions?

Post-event road maintenance after high water conditions is recognized as an important consideration as well.  However, sufficient discussion has not occurred to date to arrive at a policy related to road improvements.  The response to this question will be updated as a policy is developed.

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Question Will the project pay to create a “frontage-type” road that links all the township/county roads that dead-end into the diversion channel alignment?  How will lateral movement of emergency services be maintained on these dead-end segments?

Working closely with counties, townships, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, school districts, post offices, and the public, the Diversion Authority is conducting a series of transportation studies in the project area.  These studies will recommend locations for bridges to cross the diversion channel, as well as which township and county roads should be improved or rerouted to create links in the transportation system.  The first such study is underway at this time, entitled “North Diversion Master Transportation Plan”, and concentrates on the area from the Maple River north to the Outfall at the Red River.

The studies will include input meetings, and will consider factors such as emergency services, access to residences and farms, school bus routes, mail routes, commuter traffic, and farm to market traffic.  In some cases, routes may be extended and looped, or may be terminated in a dead-end, as deemed appropriate by the level of service needed.  The project will pay costs of necessary road modifications as part of the LERRDs responsibility of the Diversion Authority.

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Question Will FEMA continue to pay for recovery efforts/costs in the Staging Area, or will activation of the Diversion be considered a man-made disaster and therefore void FEMA support?

Activation of the diversion project during specified flood events requiring retention of flood waters in the staging and storage areas will not be the determining factor for FEMA assistance.  In order for FEMA to provide relief and recovery assistance during a disaster, the area must be declared a Major Disaster by the President of the United States.  Such a declaration comes at the request of the Governor based on the fact that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments, and that Federal assistance is necessary.  For more detailed information, please see the Robert T. Stafford Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, and Related Authorities as of June 2007.  The bottom line is: yes, if the area is declared a Major Disaster by the President, certain relief and recovery assistance would still be available based on that declaration.

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100 Yr Vs 500 Yr Flood

100 Year Versus 500 Year Flood EventWhat is the difference between a 100 Year and a 500 Year Flood Event, and why does it matter? Click Here

Sign that Says Nothing Do Nothing ScenarioWhat would happen if the Fargo Moorhead Diversion wasn't built? Click Here



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