The Souris River flows from Saskatchewan, Canada, into North Dakota through the communities of Burlington, Minot, Sawyer and Velva and then back into Manitoba, Canada.
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 dollars in damage to private and public property. The recovery efforts are still ongoing.
Annual flooding in the basin, combined with the record flood event in 2011, continues to stress the area. Many repairs have been made to the federal levee system since the 2011 event. Levee safety and confidence in the existing federal project during a flood event has been significantly reduced.
The Souris River Joint Water Resource Board was the non-federal sponsor for the feasibility study. The Souris River Basin Feasibility Study holistically examined modifications to existing reservoirs, channels, and levees within the project area and evaluated any possible new structural or nonstructural measures to address flood risk management.
The study was initially funded in February 2016 as part of the Corps’ fiscal year 2016 work plan. In May 2016, the Corps and Souris River Joint Water Resource Board executed a Feasibility Cost Share Agreement and initiated the feasibility study. The Corps released the draft feasibility report and environmental assessment in October 2017 for agency and public review and comment. In November 2018 the Senior Leaders Brief was held and in December, the draft Chief’s Report was released for State and Agency Review. The feasibility study was completed in April 2019.
Chief’s Report Signed: April 16, 2019
Congress provided authority to the Corps under Section 209 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of November 7, 1966.
The feasibility study was funded with 50 percent federal and 50 percent non-federal funds.
Estimated study federal cost $1,800,000
Estimated study non-federal cost $1,800,000
Estimated total study cost $3,600,000