What is the Project

The FM Area Diversion Project is designed to protect the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo metro area during times of extreme flooding. The Project will prevent catastrophic flooding with a few major components.

River Control Structures

During times of extreme flooding, concrete structures with radial-arm flood gates will control the levels of water flowing into the metro area through the Red and Wild Rice Rivers.

In-town Protection

The project also includes floodwalls, levees, and other flood protection measures in Fargo and Moorhead to allow up to 37-feet of water to run through town. The Red River reaches flood stage at 18 feet at the Fargo gage.

Southern Embankment

During times of extreme flooding, the control structures limit the flow of flood water through town. The Southern Embankment will keep the flood waters out of the metro area. Water will back up behind the Southern Embankment structureand be directed west toward the Diversion Channel.

Upstream Mitigation Area

When the Project operates during extreme flood events, the retention of flood waters upstream of the Southern Embankment will create an area that must be properly mitigated. Mitigation includes many different components including the purchase of property rights. Read more about mitigation here.

How was this plan chosen?

This plan was chosen after years of diligent study, public input and joint cooperation between the city of Fargo; the city of Moorhead; Cass County, North Dakota; Clay County, Minnesota; the Joint Cass Water Resource District; and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District.

It was changed in 2018 after a Task Force met to review flooding issues and discuss solutions. The Task Force was convened by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

Learn more about how the plan was chosen.

How big of a flood is it designed for?

The FM Diversion would reduce a 100-year flood event from 42.4 feet to 37 feet at the Fargo gage. For reference, the 2009 flood of record peaked at 40.8 feet.

Though not designed to prevent a 500-year flood event, the FM Diversion would give the area a chance by reducing the river level.

Why is the Project Needed?

The Project will protect more than 235,000 people from potentially catastrophic flooding

100-year flood event with existing conditions

The Red River flows North to Canada. This, combined with the natural melting cycle, early spring rains, frost depth, soil moisture and ice conditions on the river, creates a threat of flooding  on a regular basis.

Great progress has been made to protect the communities in the Fargo-Moorhead area, but there are still gaps remain in the line of protection. The Fargo-Moorhead Metro area cannot achieve accredited 100-year flood protection with levees and floodwalls alone. The FM Area Diversion Project can provide protection from catastrophic floods and changing FEMA floodplain maps.

Project History

Flood of 1997

River Crests: 39.5 Feet

The 98.6 inches of snow in Fargo and quick melt in April created a huge flood that threatened many cities along the Red River. Bruce Furness, mayor of Fargo at the time, noted that many volunteers came together to save the city. Communities like Grand Forks sustained major damage.

Cass County initiates Flood Mitigation Study

May 1997

After the devastating flood of 1997 in the Red River Valley, Cass County leaders initiate a study to find a permanent solution to flooding in the region.

Study recommends Southside Flood Protection Project

January 2001

Studies of different options focused on protecting neighborhoods in the City of Fargo. The recommendation was part of the Southside Protection Plan.

$9.5 Million FEMA Grant for study

February 2001

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gives $9.5 Million to study solutions for flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Funds/Project transferred to the City of Fargo

January 2002

Funds/Project transferred to the City of Fargo

4 Alternatives presented to the public

January 2006

Four project alternatives were presented to the public for review and comment.

U.S. Army Corps begins federal feasibility study

January 2008

The St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Feasibility Study. The study was authorized by Congress in 1074.

5 options presented to public

January 2008

Five project options were presented to the public for flood protection. These were all part of the Southside Flood Protection Plan.

ND and MN begin working on joint flood control project

Early 2008

ND and MN Governors Hoeven and Pawlenty, along with Senators Conrad, Dorgan, and Klobuchar voice support for a two-state led flood control project.

60+ meetings about project plans

Spring 2008

More than 60 public meetings are hosted in and around the City of Fargo to evaluate various options included in the Southside Flood Protection Plan.

Cost sharing for metro-wide plan

Fall 2008

Leaders in Fargo and Moorhead agree to share the cost of a metro-wide flood plan to be completed in partnership with the Corps.

Metro Flood Management Committee formed

February 2019

The Metro Flood Management Committee consisted of elected officials from Fargo, Moorhead, Cass County, and Clay County, along with one appointed representative from the watershed district on each side of the river. There were 15 Minnesota members and 11 North Dakota members.

Flood of 2009

River Crests: 40.82 Feet

During the spring of 2009, the Red River threatened to flood the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. To fight the flood, emergency measures were used including 42 miles of temporary levees, 8 miles of Hesco, .3 miles of Porta-Dam and 19 miles of sandbags. In total, more than 7.3 million sandbags were used.

Three options proposed; Corps asked to study ND-side Diversion

November 2009

Building a Diversion Channel in North Dakota was the preferred choice among Fargo-Moorhead leaders. Leaders asked the Corps to determine if a project with ND Diversion Channel could be cost-effective enough to qualify for federal funding.

Fargo sales tax begins

January 2010

City sales tax of 1/2 cent begins with money being dedicated to flood protection projects. This taxes sales, use and gross receipts until Dec. 31, 2029.

Design begins

February 2010

Designers begin working on the Project incorporating the years of study to date and best methods presented.

ND Diversion could be cost effective enough

February 2010

A North Dakota Diversion Channel would be cost-effective enough to qualify for federal funding. Although the ND project would cost more than a MN Diversion Channel, local leaders said the plan would be supported. A ND Diversion also offers more protection from a 500-year flood event.

FM Leaders pick ND Diversion + upstream storage

October 2010

The plan would give the Fargo-Moorhead region 100-year flood protection and the ability to fight a 500-year event with emergency measures. This plan is the locally-preferred plan, even tough the Minnesota-side Diversion Channel plan was more cost effective.

Permit applications begin

February 2011

The process to obtain permits for the Project begins federally and locally.

Minnesota begins EIS

February 2011

The Environmental Impact Assessment for the first permit submittal is started by the Minnesota DNR.

Diversion Authority Board created

May 2011

It became clear that the Diversion Channel would be built in North Dakota, the makeup of the Metro Flood Management Committee would need adjusting. The Metropolitan Flood Management Work Group unanimously approved the Joint Powers Authority Board with 7 ND members and 2 MN members. This board later became the Diversion Authority board. Read more

500-year protection recommended

December 2011

The Red River Basin Commission recommends metropolitan areas in the basin have protection fro 500-year flood events. The only metropolitan area with this type of protection is Winnipeg.

FEMA updates Moorhead maps

January 2012

Updated FEMA floodplain maps are adopted in Moorhead. The new FEMA floodplain is set at 39.4 feet river gage (29,300 cfs). This now impacts 178 structures after post 2009-event acqusitions.

President's Budget includes $5 Million from Federal Government

February 2012

President Obama's 2013 budget allots $5 Million for the FM Area Diversion Project.

OMB approves the plan

March 2012

North Dakota's Senator Kent Conrad announced that the White House's Office of Management and Budget approved a plan for the Diversion Project. Cost estimates from the Corps are around $2 Billion.

Record of Decision signed

March 2012

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven announced the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the FM Area Diversion Project.

Fargo passes 1/2 cent sales tax

June 2012

Voters in Fargo approved a half-cent sales tax with 60.3% of the vote. Revenue from the tax is used to fund various infrastructure projects, including streets and water improvements as well as internal flood protection.

First Project buyouts approved

June 2012

The Diversion Board of Authority approves the first three buyouts for the FM Area Diversion Project.

Land Management Plan released

July 2012

The Diversion Board of Authority releases the first version of a land management plan for the Project. The plan outlines which properties could be affected by the Project and the legal process the Board plans to follow when working with landowners.

Corps improves Project

September 2012

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improves the project by adding more water flowing through town with the construction of in-town levees, adding gates to the Diversion Inlet and Control Structure and moving the southern alignment. The changes save an estimated $100 Million in project costs and reduces the risk associated with the Project.

The Corps states the changes reduce the impacts to Richland and Wilkin counties by up to 85%.

U.S. Senate passes 2013 WRDA

May 2013

The United States Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 that included wording to authorize the FM Area Diversion Project. The authorization allows construction to begin. Read More

Buyouts in Oxbow begin

December 2013

Home buyouts begin in preparation of building a ring levee to protect the communities of Oxbow, Bakke and Hickson. This will protect the tax base for the Kindred school district.

Minnesota and DA agree to EIS

January 2014

The Diversion Board and the DNR agree to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The contract was amended to extend the expiration date to February 2, 2015 and provide additional funding for the State to complete the EIS. Read More

U.S. Senate passes 2014 WRDA

May 2014

The United States Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2014 that included wording to authorize $846 million for the FM Area Diversion Project. The authorization allows construction to begin but federal funding still needed to be appropriated each year.

FEMA updates Fargo maps

January 2015

Updated FEMA floodplain maps are adopted in Fargo. The new FEMA floodplain is set at 39.4 feet river gage (29,300 cfs). This now impacts 2,300 structures by new requirements.

P3 method approved

February 2015

The Diversion Board of Authority voted to move forward with using a Public-Private Partnership (P3) method to build the Diversion Channel and infrastructure. This includes 30 miles of channel, 2 aqueducts, 2 river inlets, the channel outfall and various drainage inlets. Read more.

ND gives $69 Million

May 2015

ND Governor Jack Dalrymple signed legislation which includes $69 million in appropriation for the FM Area Diversion Project for the next fiscal year. In total the state has pledged $450 Million for the project. Read More

Corps releases draft Cemetery Mitigation Plan

June 2015

The USACE released the Federal mitigation plan for cemeteries. This includes requiring the Diversion Authority to obtain flowage easements for the cemeteries within the Staging Area. Read more

NDSU study on ag revenues released

November 2015

The Board releases the initial results of a study detailing the impacts on agricultural revenues due to the operation of the FM Area Diversion Project. Read more

Project cost updated to $2.2 Billion

March 2016

The cost estimate for the FM Area Diversion Project, which will offer permanent protection to the Fargo-Moorhead area from serious flooding, has been updated to approximately $2.2 billion. The updated estimate was delivered to the Flood Diversion Board of Authority today. Read more

Judge dismisses federal claims

April 2016

United States District Judge John R. Tunheim, Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota, dismissed all remaining federal claims against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Diversion Authority in a lawsuit against the Corps and Diversion Authority. Read more.

Minnesota Final EIS released

May 16, 2016

The summary document of the Final EIS says that the DNR did not identify any additional reasonable alternatives to the Diversion Project. The EIS is a comprehensive evaluation of the proposed Project including environmental and social impacts. Read more.

MN Determination of Adequacy released

June 2016

The Minnesota DNR releases Determination of Adequacy of its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the first permit submittal of the F-M Area Diversion Project. The document concludes that Minnesota conducted a thorough assessment of the project and alternatives. Read more

Project Partnership Agreement signed

July 2016

6 Firms interested in building channel

September 2016

The Flood Diversion Board of Authority received Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) from six respondents to its Request for Qualifications (RFQ) released to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the Public-Private Partnership (P3) portion of the FM Area Diversion Project. Read more

North Dakota permit received

October 2016

A permit from the State Water Commission is given for the project.

Minnesota DNR denies permit

October 2016

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released its permit decision on the FM Area Diversion Project. Although the DNR had previously made a Determination of Adequacy on the study of the Project, the DNR determined they could not approve the permit application at this time. Read more

Four P3 firms shortlisted

October 2016

The Diversion Authority Board took shorlisted four teams that best represented their ability to provide effective leadership and teamwork, and efficiently and effectively deliver the Diversion Project. Each of the four teams will receive the Request for Proposals (RFP), which is anticipated to be issued later this year by the Diversion Authority.

Sales Tax extensions approved

November 2016

Voters in Fargo and Cass County approved of a long-term extension of existing sales taxes for flood protection until 2084. Measures in Fargo and Cass County passed with 66% and 63% percent, respectively. Sales taxes collections will be used to pay for the FM Area Diversion Project. Read more

RFP for Channel released

December 2016

The Diversion Board of Authority unanimously voted to distribute a Request for Proposals (RFP) to four companies interested in building the Diversion Channel portion of the FM Area Diversion Project. Read more

USACE reinstated as Defendant in Lawsuit

February 2017

Court Refuses to Reinstate Dismissed Claims Against the Diversion Authority; Reinstates Corps as an Active Defendant. Read more.

Construction on Inlet Started

April 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Board of Authority commemorated the 1997 Flood Commemoration and broke ground on the Diversion Inlet and Control Structure. Read More.

$66.5 Million Approved by ND Legislature

April 2017

North Dakota legislators and the Governor have approved House Bill 1020, which includes $66.5 Million to fund the FM Area Diversion Project. Read More

USACE does field surveys

June 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, in cooperation with the Flood Diversion Board of Authority, will continue its field surveys for the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project starting this week. Read more

Leaders update state water commissioners

August 2017

Members of the Diversion Board of Authority traveled to Bismarck to give new members of the State Water Commission an update about the project. Read more

FEMA issues letter of revisions

August 2017

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) related to the FM Area Diversion Project. Read More

Temporary Injunction issued

September 2017

U.S. District Court Judge John A. Tunheim Thursday placed a temporary injunction on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the FM Area Diversion Board of Authority, forcing all construction work on the FM Area Diversion Project to cease. Read More

Burgum, Dayton agree on task force

October 2017

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton today agreed to form a collaborative working group to try to address the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) concerns about the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project and find a viable path forward for the project. Read More

Task force formed

October 2017

ND Gov. Doug Burgum and MN Gov. Mark Dayton form a new Task Force to develop design principles and concept-level engineering solutions to achieve balanced flood risk management for the Fargo-Moorhead region. Read More

Task Force Releases Report

January 2018

Leaders of the Diversion Board of Authority received a copy of the report from the Governors’ Task Force for reviewal. Read More

Flowage easements study starts

February 2018

The Diversion Board of Authority has approved a study that will help gather data for establishing flowage easement calculations. Flowage easements will be needed in areas that are impacted by flood water when the FM Area Diversion Project would operate. Read More

New Permit Application Submitted to Minnesota DNR

March 2018

The Diversion Board of Authority accepts all recommendations from the Governors' Task Force and officially submits a new permit application to the Minnesota DNR. Read More

MDNR Conducts Supplemental EIS

March 2018

The Minnesota DNR determines a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) is required for the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority’s revised flood risk management project. Read More.

DNR releases supplemental environmental review

August 2018

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released its draft supplemental environmental impact statement (Draft SEIS) describing the potential environmental and social effects of the revised Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project, known as Plan B. Read More

Public comments on the Project

August 2018

The public was invited comment on on the Corps draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment and the DNR's draft SEIS for the Project. Read more

WRDA signed

October 2018

President Trump signed a bill authorizing money for infrastructure projects and resolves an easement issue for the FM Area Diversion Project. America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 was passed by a 99-1 vote in the U.S. Senate and a unanimous vote in the House on Oct. 10. Read More

DNR issues Final SEIS

November 2018

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SEIS) for the project. Read More

Corps given $35 Million for Fiscal 2019

November 2018

Sen. John Hoeven announced the USACE's Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 work plan includes $35 million for construction of flood protection in the Fargo-Moorhead region. Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Energy and Water Development.

Cost estimate updated to $2.75 Billion

December 2018

The Board accepts a new cost estimate for the project. The project is estimated to cost $2.75 billion in 2018 dollars. The costs are based on the project submitted to the MDNR. Approximately $430 million works completed, $2.33 billion in project costs remain. Read More

Phase 1 Easement Valuation Study released

December 2018

The first of a two phase study was recently completed by Crown Appraisals, Inc. for the FM Area Diversion Project. Fully understanding impacts has been a top priority for many years.Read More

MN DNR Grants Project Permit

December 2018

The Minnesota DNR granted a Dam Safety and Public Waters work permit for the revised Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project. Read More

Diversion Authority Works To Resolving Lawsuit

January 2019

The Diversion Board of Authority directed its litigation counsel to move forward on efforts to resolve ongoing litigation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the Richland/Wilkin JPA. Read More

The Red River begins to flood and water flows North, threatening Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo and metro area communities

As water comes from the upper parts of the drainage basin, including the Red River and from tributary rivers, the Diversion Authority will begin making preparations to operate the Project. Project operation will only happen in times of extreme flooding.

Red River Control Structure set to 37 feet

Radial-arm flood gates are lowered to limit the amount of flood waters that enter the metro area, allowing up to 37-feet of water during a 100-year flood through town in the Red River

Flood waters backup behind the Southern Embankment

As flood waters are allowed to pass through the Red River and Wild Rice River Control Structures, the amount of flood waters in the metro area are controlled to a safe level. Additional flood water will then back up behind the Southern Embankment.

Waters behind the Southern Embankment flow West and enter the Diversion Channel

The Diversion Channel Inlet Structure is located south of Horace North Dakota. Although some floodwater will drain naturally into the Red River and the Wild Rice River, under a 100-year flood event, the Diversion Channel allows 20,000 cubic feet of water per second to flow safely around the community.

Flood waters safely pass around the Metro Area in the river bed and Diversion Channel

As 37-feet of floodwaters move through the natural river bed, various levees and floodwalls throughout the metro area provide protection to the citizens, businesses, and community.

Project Operation Ends, Post–Operation Cleanup

Cleaning up after the floodwaters have passed is an important part of Project Operation. Details of planned cleanup activities are included in the Mitigation Plan.

How is it funded?

The updated funding plan includes a combination of current and proposed commitments that, if secured, would result in the following breakdown: 

  • $750 Million from the federal government ($450M existing and $300M requested)
  • $870 Million from the state of North Dakota ($570M existing and $300M requested)
  • $1,044 Million from the local sponsors funded through existing sales taxes
  • $86 Million to be requested from the state of Minnesota. ($43M for continued work in-town to pay for Plan B changes in MN and another $43M for project work)

How much will it cost?

The total estimated cost of the project is $2.75 Billion (2018$).

The Diversion Authority has reviewed the following estimates for project costs:

  • $502 Million for Lands and Impacted Property Mitigation
  • $989 Million for the Channel / P3
  • $703 Million for USACE / Southern Embankment and Associated Infrastructure
  • $266 Million for levees and other In-town projects in Fargo and Moorhead
  • $44 Million for Other Mitigation Construction
  • $250 Million for Non-Construction Costs

Special Assessment District Information

Overview of the Special Assessment District

The Cass County Joint Water Resource District (“CCJWRD”) proceeded with the creation of the FM FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT DISTRICT NO. 1 (District) to finance a portion of North Dakota’s local share of the FM Area Diversion Project. Following a successful vote to create the District in April of 2015, CCJWRD followed the process well-defined in state law and held an Assessment Hearing in June of 2017 to afford affected landowners the opportunity to submit any comments or objections they had regarding the methodology used to apportion benefits and create the assessment list that was the subject of the assessment vote.  CCJWRD considered all comments and objections submitted, made some modifications to the assessment list, and ultimately approved a final assessment list to conclude the assessment district process.  Below are links to the final Technical Memorandum documenting the consideration of public comments and the subsequent changes to the assessment methodology, along with links for the Final Assessment List and final Benefit Region map.

Pre-2018 Special Assessment District Information

Sales Tax to pay for the Project

As you know, voters in Fargo and Cass County previously voted in favor of separate sales taxes to fund the Project. However, the pace of sales tax collection will not match the pace of the costs of the project development and construction. With that in mind, the local project sponsors will have to borrow funds to keep pace with Project development, and repay the debt with sales tax proceeds. With that in mind, the local project sponsors determined creation of the FM FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT DISTRICT NO. 1 assessment district will provide an effective financing tool for the Project, with more favorable borrowing terms (lower interest rates and lower coverage requirements) than alternative financing options. The local project sponsors anticipate sales tax proceeds will provide adequate revenue to repay the financing debt and annual payments on the assessment district.

In other words, CCJWRD does not intend to levy actual assessments against the properties within the FM FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT DISTRICT NO. 1 assessment district as long as sales tax revenues are sufficient.

Previous Assessment Packets and Information



Educational Videos about the Project

Interactive Project Webmap