St. Paul, Minn. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is committed to pursuing permanent flood risk management for the communities of Moorhead, Minn., and Fargo, Harwood, Horace and West Fargo, N.D., and is anticipating awarding its first contract for the project later this month.

Public safety is the Corps’ main concern, and more than 230,000 people live and work in the Fargo-Moorhead communities. A failed flood fight in the metro area could result in the loss of human life, $10 billion in damages and put thousands of Minnesotans and North Dakotans out of work. As such, this project, which combines a 30-mile long diversion channel in the state of North Dakota with upstream staging, has been a top priority for the Corps and the St. Paul District.

On Oct. 3, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources denied an application from the Diversion Authority for a permit to build portions of a federally authorized project in Minnesota. The Minnesota DNR denied the permit based on their belief that relying on emergency measures represents a feasible, prudent, and minimal-impact alternative to provide flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead communities.

“Sandbagging should not be viewed as a long-term solution for any community and certainly not for the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area, where the Red River of the North has exceeded flood stage in 51 of the past 113 years,” said Col. Sam Calkins, St. Paul District commander. “The potential loss of life and economic devastation that would result from a failure of emergency measures are not acceptable risks.”

The Corps did not apply for this permit and is not a party to the determination issued by the Minnesota DNR. However, the agency is committed to continue working with Minnesota to address remaining concerns. Further, the Corps is committed to continue working with both states and local partners to address the concerns of all stakeholders and to ensure the project is completed in a safe, environmentally sound manner.

The contract to be awarded will build the diversion inlet, located at the junction of the diversion channel and the southern embankment near Horace, North Dakota. No construction is planned in Minnesota until 2019. The Corps can begin construction on the project in North Dakota, while working with stakeholders to resolve any remaining issues.