US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website


Flood Risk Management: Red River of the North, Breckenridge, Minnesota

Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: Sept. 20, 2019

Breckenridge, Minnesota, is the seat of Wilkin County in western Minnesota, approximately 200 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and 55 miles south of Fargo, North Dakota. The Red River of the North and the Bois de Sioux River border the city on the west. The Otter Tail River flows from the east, bisecting the city. Wahpeton, North Dakota, is located to the west across the Red River of the North from Breckenridge.


The devastating flood of 1997 in the Red River of the North Basin generated a strong response at all levels of government to implement permanent flood risk management projects for urban communities along the Red River of the North.

A 2001 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study recommended a high flow diversion channel north of the Otter Tail River to the Red River of the North and two separable permanent levee reaches that would reduce risk to Breckenridge. Congress authorized the project in 2001. The project cooperation agreement was executed in August 2002.


The project includes a diversion channel and levee work. The diversion channel was completed in June 2005 and was used for the first time in summer 2005. Construction of the levees is complete.

The project was physically transitioned to the sponsor for operations and maintenance responsibility in August 2016. The Corps continues to coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding levee certification and accreditation efforts.

Together, the Breckenridge and Wahpeton projects have prevented $164 million in combined damages through February 2019, meaning that every $1 of federal funds has saved $5.61 in damages.

$164,000,000 saved as of 2018


The Corps initiated the project under Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948 authorizes construction of small projects for flood risk management with federal costs limited to $7 million; however, the federal portion of the estimated cost exceeded the limit. The project became a specifically authorized project in 2001 under the Water Resources Development Act.


Project design and construction costs are shared with the non-federal sponsor. The non-federal sponsor is responsible for operation and maintenance costs.

Federal cost                                             $29,220,000
Non-federal cost                                     $15,800,000
Total cost                                                  $45,020,000