Red River of the North Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: Sept. 23, 2019

The Red River of the North Basin is an international, multi-jurisdictional watershed of 45,000 square miles, with 80 percent of the basin lying in the United States and 20 percent in Canada. Multiple states have counties that lie wholly or partially in the basin: 18 in Minnesota, one in South Dakota and 22 in North Dakota. The river flows to the north, bringing water and nutrients to Lake Winnipeg.


Flooding, loss of native habitat and excess nutrient loading are significant issues in the Red River of the North Basin. From both urban-generated activity and a vibrant agricultural economy, the economic impact of the basin is significant. This basin is home to more than 1 million people and serves as a job, education and medical hub in addition to a world-renowned agricultural production area.


The comprehensive watershed management plan (CWMP) was endorsed by the Red River Basin Commission in June 2017.  The approved CWMP was forwarded to the Congressional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on January 18, 2019.

The CWMP contains the accumulated planning efforts and recommended strategies and actions of six working groups that were formed to identify and address challenges to water resource management in the following focus areas: (1) flood risk management and hydrology; (2) fish, wildlife and ecosystem health; (3) water quality; (4) water supply; (5) recreation; and (6) soil health. The six working groups were comprised of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Red River Basin Commission (RRBC) members, state, local, and regional representatives, and subject matter experts.

The recommended actions would be implemented by various groups, including the Corps, the RRBC, the Red River Watershed Management Board, the North Dakota Joint Water Resource District, local communities and watershed districts, extension services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the North Dakota Department of Health, North Dakota Game and Fish, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, and River Keepers.

The CWMP includes a recommendation for the Corps to study deauthorizing the Rush River, North Dakota, and Wild Rice River, Minnesota, channel improvement projects (built between 1957 and 1964).


Authorized by a resolution of the Senate Committee on Public Works on September 30, 1974, the CWMP is one task within the specifically authorized Red River basin-wide feasibility study.


Costs for the parent feasibility study are shared 50/50 between the federal government and non-federal sponsors, with the sponsors providing their share as work-in-kind. The CWMP cost $870,000.