Saturday, April 2, 2011

Red River flood mitigation plan requires state, local approvals

Dave Kolpack in the Insurance Journal: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it needs formal approval from state and local officials in two states by April 11 to keep alive the latest version of a planned Red River diversion around Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn. The corps on Wednesday outlined recent changes to the project as workers for the agency were building temporary levees around the Fargo-Moorhead area. Residents are preparing to defend against what’s predicted to be a third straight major flood.

A record flood in 2009 forced thousands to evacuate, inundated about 100 homes and caused an estimated $100 million in damages. Last year’s flood crest was the sixth-highest on record. The diversion, which would move water west of the metropolitan area on the North Dakota side, originally was estimated at $1.25 billion. The latest changes have bumped up the cost to $1.7 billion. More than $950 million would come from sources other than the federal government.

Officials representing city and county governments said they expected approval of the updated plan. “We do not want to be the agency that kills this project. That’s the bottom line,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

Even so, some are worried that the higher price tag could make the channel more difficult to sell to taxpayers. “That’s going to weigh heavy on a lot of people’s minds — how we’re going to pay for this,” said Darrell Vanyo, Cass County, N.D., commissioner….

A flooded neighborhood in Fargo, North Dakota, in March 2009. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA

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