The Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project is essential to provide F-M residents with the permanent flood protection they need and deserve. Levees under construction within Fargo-Moorhead will work in conjunction with the Diversion to make the Project more efficient and reduce impacts upstream by allowing more water to pass through town.
Both cities have worked diligently to construct levees throughout town where it is technically and financially feasible. All of the intown levees that have been constructed, along with levees that are a part of the City of Fargo’s comprehensive plan, are complimentary to the Diversion Project, will allow for increased protection, and help reduce the need for emergency flood protection measures such as sandbags.
Intown levees and inlet gates allow for increased flows through town up to a 35-foot river level in Fargo-Moorhead. These levees and gates:
- Significantly reduce the impact to upstream communities, such as Richland and Wilkin Counties;
- Reduce the frequency of operation of the Diversion and staging area from once every three to four years to once every ten years;
- Limit the impacts to farming by reducing the probability of summer operation in that no summer rain event in history would have operated the Diversion;
- Reduce long-term project operation and maintenance costs; and
- Eliminate the need for fish passages on the Red and Wild Rice rivers.
Levees alone cannot provide adequate protection because the area lacks the natural high ground needed to begin and end levee construction. As such, the largest cost-effective levee plan could only provide a 42.5 foot level of protection (a 39.5 foot river level), and could only be certified up to a two-percent chance, or 50-year event. (Certifiable 100-year flood protection is needed to avoid costly flood insurance.) An alternative utilizing a ring levee around the cities of Fargo and West Fargo was studied, and was estimated to cost $900 million. This alternative left an intolerable level of risk, so the levee-alone alternative was dropped from consideration.
In the interim, intown levees are already making a difference in providing added flood protection for Fargo and Moorhead. The F-M Area Diversion Project will be the final, essential piece to integrate the various flood protection measures in order to protect approximately 200,000 people from devastating flooding. The region needs the peace of mind the Diversion Project will bring.