US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District


Red River of the North Basin-Wide Feasibility Study

Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: March 22, 2019

The Red River of the North Basin covers 45,000 square miles and occupies substantial portions of North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota, southern Manitoba and a small portion of northeastern South Dakota.  The river flows to the north, feeding into Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba.


Flooding, nutrient loading and loss of native habitat are significant issues in the Red River of the North Basin.

Land use in the basin is primarily agricultural, but several urban centers are located along the Red River main stem and tributaries, including Winnipeg, Manitoba and the North Dakota and Minnesota border communities of Wahpeton-Breckenridge, Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks-East Grand Forks.  While extensive drainage systems have resulted in extremely rich agricultural areas, portions of the basin still support the ecologically abundant prairie-pothole region.  Flooding is a major concern for residents in the basin because frequent floods impact urban and rural infrastructure and agricultural production.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota Red River Watershed Management Board and the North Dakota Red River Joint Water Resource District entered into a feasibility cost share agreement on June 4, 2008. The basin-wide study integrates several ongoing planning efforts, which build upon International Red River Board and Red River Basin Commission initiatives.  Study tasks include collecting topographic data, developing hydrologic and hydraulic models to be used for project planning and flood forecasting, updating the Red River Basin Decision Information Network and developing a comprehensive watershed management plan (CWMP) including a long-term flood solutions report. 


Hydrologic modeling of individual sub-basins was completed in 2015.  Integration of these models with the main stem hydraulic model will be complete in early 2019.

The CWMP was completed in 2017 and addresses basin-wide goals and objectives for flood risk management, water quality, water supply, recreation, soil health and natural resource enhancement.  The CWMP has been forwarded to the Congressional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further action.

Watershed planning tools—including a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) viewer, flood mapping, hydrologic models and a drought planning tool—are available at


The Senate Committee on Public Works authorized the study by resolution on September 30, 1974.


Total study cost is estimated to be roughly $18 million.  Costs are shared 50/50 between the federal government and non-federal sponsors, with the sponsors providing their share as work-in-kind.  Federal allocations through fiscal year 2019 are $9,128,847.