FARGO – In other news from Thursday’s monthly Diversion Authority meeting:
LEGISLATURE TO LOOK AT DIVERSION PROJECT IN SPECIAL MEETING
The Red River diversion project will be one of the main topics of discussion at an interim committee hearing of the North Dakota Legislature next week in Fargo.
The Water-Related Topics Overview Committee will hear a presentation on Fargo flood control from Army Corps project manager Brett Coleman and Fargo Administrator Pat Zavoral.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. April 19 in Room 204 of the Fargodome, 1800 North University Drive.
The Legislature appropriates the State Water Commission’s biennial budget and has control over any amount of funds that will be allocated for the Red River diversion project and for Fargo’s own flood-control projects.
UPDATES TO ALIGNMENT, CHANNEL WIDTH
Proposed alignment changes to the diversion channel between the Maple and Sheyenne rivers could be released as early as May, said Bruce Spiller, technical services manager for the authority’s project management team.
Spiller said engineers are looking at ways to optimize the channel’s route, which could also save money on construction costs.
“We’re on track, and we should have something for you shortly,” Spiller said.
In December, engineers released significant alignment changes to the northern end of the diversion channel, from the Maple River to the Red River outlet. Those changes shaved off about a mile of the proposed channel, which also saved about $80 million.
Meanwhile, Spiller said engineers also recently looked at changing the proposed half-mile width of the diversion channel. At this time though, engineers are opting to keep the proposed width at least for the northern end of the channel.
As design efforts continue from north to south along the 35-mile path, Spiller said engineers will re-evaluate the channel’s width and make optimal changes as they might be helpful to the project.
R.O.D. PUTS MINNESOTA OPTION OFFICIALLY OFF THE TABLE
Corps project manager Aaron Snyder said the recent Record of Decision that approved the project also inherently kills any chance that the Minnesota diversion option is still a viable possibility.
A 35,000-cfs diversion channel in Minnesota was the national economic-development, or NED, plan – which in the eyes of the corps made it the most appealing option if there had not been a locally preferred plan.
However, there was an LPP and F-M leaders went forward with it: the 20,000-cfs diversion channel in North Dakota with upstream staging/storage, a project that the Record of Decision approved.
The Record of Decision makes clear that although the Minnesota diversion channel would be the “environmentally preferable plan,” it was not selected for approval by the corps because of other reasons, Snyder said.
“(The Record of Decision is) closing the loop on the documentation,” Snyder explained. “The Minnesota plan is completely off the table, the only plan on the table is the North Dakota plan with upstream staging and storage.”
DIVERSION E-NEWSLETTER IN THE WORKS
The authority’s Public Outreach Committee is developing an electronic newsletter, which they want to send out to subscribers and interested parties.
“There’s a lot going on,” said communications consultant Eric Dodds of AE2S. “The plan would be to publish a monthly newsletter with short stories, (and be) easy to read to keep them informed of the project.”
Once the newsletter is available, individuals could subscribe to it on the authority’s website at www.fmdiversion.com.
Dodds said they hope to begin publishing the newsletter in a couple months.