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 North Dakota), 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 $51 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.
This project is being proposed by the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion 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. According to the Diversion Authority, the purpose of the project is to "reduce flood risk, flood damages and flood protection costs related to flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area."