Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project

Project Setting

The Fargo-Moorhead area is a regional center for healthcare, education, government, and commerce.

This area has a high risk of flooding. The Red, Wild Rice (in ND), Sheyenne, Maple, Lower Rush, and the Rush Rivers all contribute to the flood risk. Average annual national economic flood damages in the metropolitan area are estimated to be more than $194.8 million, and a failure of emergency flood measures could result in loss of life.

Flooding in Fargo-Moorhead typically occurs in late March and early April as a result of spring snowmelt. Flooding poses a significant risk of damage to urban and rural infrastructure and disrupts transportation throughout the metropolitan area. Infrastructure at risk includes several regional medical centers, three college campuses, and city and county government headquarters offices.

The stated purpose of the proposed Project is to "reduce flood risk, flood damages and flood protection costs related to flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area."


Project Summary

As proposed by the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Diversion Board of Authority, the Project design features include:

  • a 30-mile long diversion channel,
  • a 6-mile long connecting channel,
  • 12 miles of tie-back embankments,
  • 4 miles of overflow embankment, and
  • levee/ floodwall features in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota.

When in operation, the Project staging area would store flood waters on about 33,000 acres within a 38,400 acre area, in order to avoid increases in downstream flooding. Flows would be controlled via two dams, one on the Red River and one on the Wild Rice River:

  • The Wild Rice River dam would be located in North Dakota and not subject to Minnesota permit requirements.
  • The DNR has determined that the proposed dam on the Red River would be classified as a Class I Dam under the State's Dam Safety permitting rules (MN Rules part 6115.0340). Therefore, the DNR must produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed project, as required by MN Rules part 4410.4400, subpart 18. The State will use the EIS to assess the potential for significant environmental impacts from the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Reduction Project (Project). An environmental analysis and project alternatives analysis will be performed in accordance with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The dam would need a DNR Dam Safety permit prior to construction.

Frequently Asked Questions

(Updated December 31, 2014)


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Project Map

Project map

Project Map

Project location

river running through city
Vern Whitten Photography

EIS Preparation Notice

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project (Project) as proposed by the Flood Diversion Board of Authority (Diversion Authority). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has partnered with the Diversion Authority to plan, secure funding for, and construct the Project. Operation of the Project would be the responsibility of the Diversion Authority.

A Final Scoping Decision Document (FSDD) was prepared for the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project. The purpose of this document was to identify the environmental effects and project alternatives that will be assessed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

EIS Schedule. The original tentative EIS schedule included Draft EIS publication in August 2014.  However, it is not uncommon for EIS timelines to be adjusted as the project moves forward and additional studies and analyses are identified.  The new estimated release date for the Draft EIS is summer 2015. Completion of state environmental review will depend on the content and quantity of comments received on the Draft EIS.

Additional Information

Note: The following links are to external sites. They are not maintained by the DNR and the content is not verified by the DNR.

Background information about the federal EIS and federal feasibility study can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site.

The Flood Diversion Board of Authority consists of the cities of Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN, along with Cass County, ND, Clay County, MN, the Cass County Joint Water Resources District, and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District. The Diversion Authority and its members worked with the USACE on the federal EIS and Feasibility Study and they continue to work with the Minnesota DNR in developing information for the State EIS. They maintain a Web site with Diversion Authority information and some information from the federal EIS process.

Questions regarding the State EIS can be sent to:

Jill Townley, EIS Project Manager
Environmental Review Unit
Division of Ecological and Water Resources
Minnesota DNR
500 Lafayette Road
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155-4025
Fax: 651-296-1811