FM Diversion – Fargo Moorhead Area Diversion Project

About the Diversion Authority

Flood Diversion Authority Logo FINAL-300x300The communities of Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN, along with Cass County, ND, Clay County, MN, and the Cass County Joint Water Resources District have signed a joint powers agreement that forms a Flood Diversion Board of Authority. The purpose is to build and operate a flood diversion channel along the Red River of the North to reduce the flood risk of the stakeholder communities and counties. The Diversion Authority and its members worked with the United States Army Corps of Engineers on the FM Metro Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study to develop the flood diversion channel project.

The Diversion Authority is led by nine board members from the stakeholder entities.


Flood Diversion Board of Authority
Box 2806
211 Ninth Street South
Fargo, ND  58108

Joint Powers Agreement

Dr. Tim Mahoney
Mayor of Fargo

Del Rae Williams
Vice-Chair and Mayor of Moorhead

Darrell Vanyo
Chair and Cass County Appointee

Joel Paulsen
Moorhead City Council

Chuck Hendrickson
Moorhead City Council

Kevin Campbell
Clay County Commission

Grant Weyland
Clay County Commission

Rodger Olson
Joint Water Resource District

Mike Thorstad
West Fargo City Commission

Mary Scherling
Cass County Commission

Chad Peterson
Cass County Commission

Tony Grindberg
Fargo City Commission

Dave Piepkorn
Fargo City Commission

Public Outreach Committee Members

Rodger Olson – Cass County Joint Water Resource District Manager
Kevin Campbell – Clay County Commissioner
Mike Thorstad – West Fargo City Commissioner
Brenda Elmer – Moorhead City Commissioner
Gerald Van Amburg – Buffalo-Red River Watershed District – Ex-Officio Member
Mary Scherling – Cass County Commissioner
John Strand– Fargo City Commissioner
Jake Gust – Rush River Watershed District
Elly Peterson – Fargo Moorhead Business Leaders Flood Task Force
Jason Benson – Cass County Engineer

Agricultural Policy Subcommittee Members

Rodger Olson – Joint Water Resource District Manager
Mark Askegaard
Dave Overbo – Clay County Engineer
Mark Bittner – Fargo City Engineer
Mark Brodshaug – Southeast Water Resource District Manager
Mark Ottis
Jon Evert
Ron Sorvaag
Keith Berndt – Cass County Administrator

Land Management Committee Members

Del Rae Williams – Mayor, City of Moorhead
Kevin Campbell – Clay County Commissioner
Jenny Mongeau – Clay County Commissioner
Heidi Durand – Moorhead City Councilwoman
Bob Zimmerman – Moorhead City Engineer
John Strand – Fargo City Commissioner
Nathan Boerboom – Fargo City Engineer
Bruce Grubb – Fargo City Engineer
Mary Scherling – Cass County Commissioner
Chad Peterson – Cass County Commissioner
Jim Nyhof – Mayor of Oxbow
Rodger Olson – Cass County Joint Water Resource District Manager

Finance Committee

Tim Mahoney – Mayor, City of Fargo
Tony Grindberg – City of Fargo Commissioner
Tony Gehrig – City of Fargo Commissioner
Kent Costin – City of Fargo Finance Director
Michael Redlinger – Assistant City Manager, City of Fargo
Darrell Vanyo – Cass County Commissioner
Rick Steen – Cass County Commissioner
Mike Montplaisir – Cass County Auditor
Chuck Hendrickson – Moorhead City Council Member
Wanda Wagner – City of Moorhead Finance Director
Lori Johnson – Clay County Auditor
Mark Brodshaug – Cass County Joint Water Resource District

Minnesota and North Dakota Cooperation on Diversion Project Dates Back to 2009

Minnesota and North Dakota officials have been cooperating since 2009 in an exhaustive effort to build permanent protection against severe flooding for the F-M area. Those efforts led to the formation and membership of the Diversion Authority board that exists today.

“Fargo and Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth…we’ve been in this together from the get go,” said Nancy Otto, Diversion Authority member and Moorhead, MN City Council member. “We almost lost portions of our cities back in 2009. Have we done a lot since then? Yes, we have. We’ve done a lot, but we have not done enough.”

Minnesota Majorities Chose Current North Dakota Diversion Plan

The cooperation between North Dakota and Minnesota for flood protection was fortified in 2009 when the Metro Flood Management Committee was formed. All parties agreed that something needed to be done to protect the metro area from future catastrophic floods. The Metro Flood Management Committee consisted of elected officials from Fargo, Moorhead, Cass County, and Clay County, along with one appointed representative from the watershed district on each side of the river. There were 15 Minnesota members and 11 North Dakota members.

Next, the group evolved into the Metropolitan Flood Management Work Group with a slightly more condensed membership. This group consisted of six Minnesota and five North Dakota representatives. These representatives came from the same six public entities across both states. This group was co-chaired with representatives from both states, and the group met regularly from 2009 to 2011.

The majority of the members of the Metropolitan Flood Management Work Group were Minnesotans. In April, 2011, they voted unanimously to endorse a North Dakota diversion plan that included staging water upstream. Each of the six entities, three in each state, approved a resolution in support of the North Dakota diversion with the upstream staging area.

North Dakota Carries 90 Percent of Non-Federal Funding

After it became clear that most of the Diversion Project would be constructed in North Dakota, the majority of the impacts would be in North Dakota, and the majority of the benefits would be in North Dakota, it was decided that North Dakota should also provide the funding for the majority of the Project. The tentative agreement was that North Dakota entities would cover 90 percent of the estimated one billion-dollar, non-federal, cost; and Minnesota would cover the remaining 10 percent, or $100 million.

At the time, the North Dakota diversion decision and the 90/10 split between the two states was lauded as a great accomplishment by all Minnesota legislators. In reference to the $100 million, longtime Minnesota Democrat Sen. Keith Langseth went so far as to say that, “We would be so happy to fund a diversion channel on the North Dakota side that we would very willingly come up with the money.” (Associated Press – Feb. 1, 2010)

Joint Powers Authority Board Becomes Diversion Authority

The alignment change from Minnesota to North Dakota was also a catalyst in changing the makeup of the board. In May 2011, the Metropolitan Flood Management Work Group unanimously approved the Joint Powers Authority Board made up of the same six entities, but this time with seven North Dakota members and two Minnesota members. This board later became the Diversion Authority board. For the first time since the Diversion Project’s inception, North Dakota would have the majority of the board membership.

“The biggest decisions that were made with respect to flood protection were made by a majority Minnesota and North Dakota board. It reflects that it was going to be in North Dakota. It reflects the diversion footprint, and it reflects the Staging Area,” said Darrell Vanyo, Chairman of the Diversion Authority.

The Joint Powers Agreement between the six entities also spelled out the voting powers in order to protect the minority power of its members and states involved. For example: a vote in the affirmative by a Minnesota member is needed in order to approve the annual budget and work plan, project alignment, and the hiring and firing of lobbyists and project managers. This provision was added to specifically address future misinterpretation by those who were not as involved when the Diversion Authority Board membership was agreed upon.

In June and July of 2011, the board membership and the 90/10 cost split between North Dakota and Minnesota was taken to the Clay County Commission, Moorhead City Council, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, Cass County Commission, Fargo City Commission, and Cass County Commission for approval. All six entities in both States agreed to the proposal.

Minnesota and North Dakota Continue Cooperation

It is important for legislators and the public in Minnesota and North Dakota to know how the Diversion Project came to be. Minnesota and North Dakota lawmakers have worked arm in arm for years to come up with the flood protection plan. In fact, there has not been a vote by a Minnesota board member in opposition to the majority since the inception of the Diversion Authority. There is a long history of cooperation between the two states on the Diversion Project, and continued cooperation will be necessary for many years to complete the Project.