Continuing Authorities Program: Flood Risk Management: Section 205, Red River of the North, Wahpeton, North Dakota

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Feb. 26, 2015
Updated: Sept. 20, 2019

Wahpeton is in Richland County in eastern North Dakota, approximately 55 miles south of Fargo. The Red River of the North and the Bois de Sioux River border the city on the east. The confluence of the Otter Tail River with the Red River of the North is located at Wahpeton. The city of Breckenridge, Minnesota, lies east across the Red River of the North from Wahpeton.


The 1997 flood nearly devastated Wahpeton. Only heroic flood fighting with assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers kept the city from sustaining significant damages. The 1997 flood generated a strong determination by all levels of government to implement permanent flood risk management projects for existing urban communities along the Red River of the North, including Wahpeton and its sister city, Breckenridge, Minnesota.

A Feasibility Cost Share Agreement was signed June 18, 1999, to address the flooding problem. Federal, state, and local government cooperation continued with the signing of a project cooperation agreement on June 12, 2002. The feasibility study recommended a permanent levee system to protect the city and a flood easement to keep breakout flood flows from being blocked in the future.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 increased the limit on federal expenditures from $7 million to $12 million for the Wahpeton project.


Project construction began in 2003. Levee construction was completed fall 2012. Remedial flood repair construction was completed in 2014. The project is complete and was physically transitioned to the sponsor for operations and maintenance responsibilities on March 3, 2017. The sponsor continues to acquire flowage easements as a project requirement and has one final easement to acquire. The Corps is working closely with Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the project accreditation process and updated regulatory floodplain mapping.

The project is closely tied to the Breckenridge specifically-authorized flood risk management project, which includes a diversion channel and levee work. The diversion channel was completed in June 2005.

Together, the Breckenridge and Wahpeton projects have prevented $164 million in combined damages through 2019.

$164,000,000 saved as of 2018


Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948.


Project design and construction costs are shared with the non-federal sponsor. The non-federal sponsor is responsible for operation and maintenance costs. The state of North Dakota is assisting the city with its financial obligations.

Federal cost                                             $12,000,000
Non-federal cost                                       $9,200,000
Total cost                                                  $21,200,000