Flood Risk Management: Fargo-Moorhead Metro

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: Sept. 25, 2023
Group of people posing for a photo with an award

USACE employees, partners pose for a photo following the receipt of the National Academy of Construction Special Achievement award in Boston Oct. 13.

Group of people applaud after unveiling a plaque

Col. Eric Swenson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, commander, left; Sen. John Hoeven (ND); Michael Conner, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; and Dr. Tim Mahoney, city of Fargo, North Dakota, mayor, and chair of the Metro Flood Diversion Authority unveil the Diversion Inlet Structure plaque during a ceremony at the Fargo City Hall Oct. 27. The group was there to commemorate the completion of the Diversion Inlet Structure, the first major federal component of the flood diversion project, that will reduce flood risks to nearly 260,000 citizens within the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area and 70 square miles of infrastructure.

Woman speaks at a podium

Terry Williams, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District program manager in charge of the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management project, speaks during the National Academy of Construction banquet in Boston, Oct. 13.

group of seven people receive an award

The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project Delivery Team the “USACE 2022 Project Delivery Team of the Year for Excellence" national-level award in a ceremony held in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11.

Sen. John Hoeven (ND) speaks at a podium

Sen. John Hoeven, (ND), speaks during a dedication ceremony in Fargo, North Dakota, Oct. 27. The senator joined Michael Conner, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District; Metro Flood Diversion Authority; city of Fargo; and city of Moorhead, Minnesota, to commemorate the completion of the Diversion Inlet Structure, the first major federal component of the flood diversion project, that will reduce flood risks to nearly 260,000 citizens within the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area and 70 square miles of infrastructure.

Col. Eric Swenson speaks at a podium

Col. Eric Swenson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District commander, speaks during a dedication ceremony in Fargo, North Dakota, Oct. 27. Swenson joined Michael Conner, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Sen. John Hoeven, (ND); members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District; Metro Flood Diversion Authority; city of Fargo; and city of Moorhead, Minnesota, to commemorate the completion of the Diversion Inlet Structure, the first major federal component of the flood diversion project, that will reduce flood risks to nearly 260,000 citizens within the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area and 70 square miles of infrastructure.

A red crane lifts a Tainter gate at a construction site

A crane lifts a Tainter gate into place at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, Wild Rice Structure near Horace, North Dakota, Sept. 19. The gate is one of two that will be installed at the structure, which is a key component of the Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnesota Metro Area Diversion project. Once the project is complete, it will reduce flood risk to more than 235,000 people within the region.

A construction site with a large concrete structure.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, rerouted the Wild Rice River through the Wild Rice River Structure March 31. Rerouting the Wild Rice River was a major milestone for the Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnesota Flood Risk Management Project. After three years of construction, Ames Construction, Inc., permanently diverted the Wild Rice River through a gated concrete structure, a project first. This reroute will allow Ames to complete construction of a dam embankment across the existing Wild Rice River channel.

Man speaks at podium

Michael Conner, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, speaks during a dedication ceremony in Fargo, North Dakota, Oct. 27. Conner joined Sen. John Hoeven, (ND); members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District; Metro Flood Diversion Authority; city of Fargo; and city of Moorhead, Minnesota, to commemorate the completion of the Diversion Inlet Structure, the first major federal component of the flood diversion project, that will reduce flood risks to nearly 260,000 citizens within the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area and 70 square miles of infrastructure.

A group of people shovel dirt in front of construction equipment.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 10

Corps senior leaders and elected officials shovel dirt at the P3 groundbreaking in Fargo, North Dakota, Aug 9, 2022.

Location/Description
Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota are on the west and east banks respectively of the Red River of the North, approximately 150 miles south of the Canada-United States border. The Wild Rice, Sheyenne, Maple and Rush rivers in North Dakota and the Buffalo River in Minnesota also cross the project area. 
 
Background
The Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area is a major health, education, cultural and commercial center. The area is prone to flooding. The Red River of the North has exceeded the National Weather Service flood stage of 18 feet in 60 of the past 124 years (1902 through 2023), with seven of the top 10 floods occurring in the last 30 years. A 500-year event would flood nearly the entire city of Fargo, a large portion of the city of Moorhead and several smaller communities in the area. Flooding occurs not only from the rivers but also from large rainfall events that overwhelm storm drainage systems. Average annual flood damages are estimated at approximately $238 million. Although emergency flood fights have been very successful, the area has a significant risk of catastrophic flooding.
 
Status

The project is a 30-mile, 20,000-cubic foot per second diversion channel in North Dakota with upstream staging. A feasibility study was initiated in 2008 and completed in 2011. A record of decision was signed April 3, 2012. The Metro Flood Diversion Authority, the city of Fargo, North Dakota, and the city of Moorhead, Minnesota, are the non-federal sponsors (NFS). The Project Partnership Agreement, executed on July 11, 2016; and, as amended March 2019, limits the federal share to $750 million plus inflation. The total project cost is currently estimated to be $2,891,771,000.

Fargo-Moorhead is the first U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to use a public private partnership (P3). Non-federal construction of the diversion channel using a P3 began in August 2022.

USACE is designing and constructing the 22-mile Southern Embankment and 3 large gated control structures. The first federal contract was awarded on December 6, 2016, for the Diversion Inlet Structure; construction began in spring 2017. Construction of the Wild Rice River Structure, the I-29 Grade Raise, the Red River Structure, the Drayton Dam Fish Passage Mitigation Project, Southern Embankment Reach SE-2A, and the Drain 27 Native Plantings contracts are also ongoing. Construction of the Southern Embankment Reach SE-1 and the Drain 27 Wetland Restoration Project was completed in 2022. An additional 4 federal contracts will be awarded in FY24.

The project received $437,000,000 in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 2022 (PL 117-58) to complete and fiscally close out the project.

Authority
Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. Received new start/construction funding in the fiscal year 2016 work plan.
 
Federal 

Federal funding received

FY 2016 ‒ FY 2023:                               $750,049,996