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flood management in Fargo-Moorhead

flood management in Fargo-Moorhead

developing long-term solutions to severe flooding in the Red River Basin

For decades, the cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, have been plagued by flooding from the Red River of the North and its tributaries. As part of a team of consultants hired by the local governments, Barr worked with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) St. Paul District during a fast-track feasibility study to develop and compare alternative solutions.

After evaluating these alternatives, the local governments selected a plan that integrates permanent solutions adhering to strict engineering, environmental, and cost/benefit criteria. Plan elements include controlled staging and storage, with diversion of flood waters from the Red River of the North and five major tributaries into a 35-mile diversion channel. This will reduce the risk of flood damage up to the 500-year flood event for nearly 200,000 people and 70 square miles of infrastructure. The design allows flood fighting efforts during the most extreme events without catastrophic failure of the diversion.

As part of the three-year study, Barr developed feasibility designs for the primary hydraulic structures along the channel and then estimated all construction costs for the proposed $1.8 billion diversion system. We used one- and two-dimensional velocity modeling to evaluate flow and velocity patterns at hydraulic structures and 3D renderings to facilitate communication of design alternatives with the team, agencies, and public audiences. We conducted a geomorphologic and sediment transport study, which provided a framework for evaluating impacts and design criteria for a low-flow channel within the main diversion channel.

We also participated in and assisted the USACE and the cities with value-based design workshops for the main outlet structure, Maple aqueduct, and spillway structures. Two value-engineering  analyses for the Rush and Lower Rush drop structures resulted in cost savings and improved functioning and helped transition the project from feasibility to final design.

Project design continues using both federal and non-federal funds. Recently, Barr provided detailed design of in-town levees and floodwalls, a ring levee around the city of Oxbow, and bridge crossings over the proposed diversion channel. The local government sponsors are working to secure congressional authorization and federal construction funds, with project completion expected in about 10 years.