Red River of the North Basin-Wide Feasibility Study

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: Sept. 20, 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 products include collecting data and developing a topographic digital elevation model, 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.

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


All study activities will be complete in 2019, and the study will be closed out.


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.