In the mid-1970s, a series of major flood events occurred. To protect the communities, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a series of emergency levees under Public Law 84‒99. These levees were later incorporated into the federal project. Since then, the emergency levees have undergone limited maintenance and experienced structural encroachments; however, these levees remain the primary line of defense for major flood events. While the emergency levees have provided some protection against major flood events, a permanent solution is needed to reduce the flood risk to these critical North Dakota communities.
The Souris River in the North Dakota cities of Burlington, Minot, Logan, and Sawyer had a flood of record in 2011 with flows of 27,400 cubic feet per second. These flows devastated the communities and caused evacuations of more than 11,000 residents and approximately $1 billion in damage to private and public property. The recovery efforts are still ongoing.
Homme and Ashtabula are multiple-purpose sites with flood risk management, recreation and environmental stewardship business functions. Souris River Project is used for flood control and mitigation activities.
Homme Lake is two miles west of Park River, North Dakota, on the South Branch of the Park River. Walsh County, North Dakota, leases land to operate a recreation area with overnight camping, a day-use area and a boat launch.
Lake Ashtabula (Baldhill Dam) is 12 miles northwest of Valley City, North Dakota, on the Sheyenne River. It has overnight camping, swimming, boat launching, and picnic and playground facilities. About 2,500 acres are used for wildlife management.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) owns Upper Souris and J. Clark Salyer Refuges. Lake Darling is 20 miles northwest of Minot, North Dakota. J. Clark Salyer Refuge is 65 miles northeast of Minot, North Dakota.
Unprecedented flooding in the Souris River Basin in 2011 has focused attention on review of the water control structure operating plan during flood events. This study area will include the entire Souris River Basin to its confluence with the Assiniboine River and will encompass the key water control reservoirs: Rafferty, Alameda, Boundary and Lake Darling. The study will look at the geographical limits of the basin in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the state of North Dakota.
Following the 2011 flood event, North Dakota developed a preliminary engineering report that evaluated alternatives to mitigate flood risks throughout the Souris Basin. The report recommended a flood risk management project that would provide protection up to the 2011 flood of record levels or approximately 27,400 cubic feet per second (cfs).