Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota are on the west and east banks respectively of the Red River of the North, approximately 150 miles south of the Canada-United States border. The Wild Rice, Sheyenne, Maple and Rush rivers in North Dakota and the Buffalo River in Minnesota also cross the project area.
The Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area is a major health, education, cultural and commercial center. The area is prone to flooding. The Red River of the North has exceeded the National Weather Service flood stage of 18 feet in 60 of the past 124 years (1902 through 2023), with seven of the top 10 floods occurring in the last 30 years. A 500-year event would flood nearly the entire city of Fargo, a large portion of the city of Moorhead and several smaller communities in the area. Flooding occurs not only from the rivers but also from large rainfall events that overwhelm storm drainage systems. Average annual flood damages are estimated at approximately $238 million. Although emergency flood fights have been very successful, the area has a significant risk of catastrophic flooding.
The project is a 30-mile, 20,000-cubic foot per second diversion channel in North Dakota with upstream staging. A feasibility study was initiated in 2008 and completed in 2011. A record of decision was signed April 3, 2012. The Metro Flood Diversion Authority, the city of Fargo, North Dakota, and the city of Moorhead, Minnesota, are the non-federal sponsors (NFS). The Project Partnership Agreement, executed on July 11, 2016; and, as amended March 2019, limits the federal share to $750 million plus inflation. The total project cost is currently estimated to be $2,891,771,000.
Fargo-Moorhead is the first U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to use a public private partnership (P3). Non-federal construction of the diversion channel using a P3 began in August 2022.
USACE is designing and constructing the 22-mile Southern Embankment and 3 large gated control structures. The first federal contract was awarded on December 6, 2016, for the Diversion Inlet Structure; construction began in spring 2017. Construction of the Wild Rice River Structure, the I-29 Grade Raise, the Red River Structure, the Drayton Dam Fish Passage Mitigation Project, Southern Embankment Reach SE-2A, and the Drain 27 Native Plantings contracts are also ongoing. Construction of the Southern Embankment Reach SE-1 and the Drain 27 Wetland Restoration Project was completed in 2022. An additional 4 federal contracts will be awarded in FY24.
The project received $437,000,000 in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 2022 (PL 117-58) to complete and fiscally close out the project.
Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. Received new start/construction funding in the fiscal year 2016 work plan.
Federal funding received
FY 2016 ‒ FY 2023: $750,049,996