The groundbreaking of the first Army Corps of Engineer civil work project constructed using the P3 alternate financing method occurred in our state on Tuesday, August 9.
This method is a supplement to other funding options, when you pay for construction projects.
The project in question near Fargo has been in the works for over a decade, but it may contradict a few other projects on the west side of the state.
“We need water statewide, I mean we need it right now. We need it for homeowners, for irrigation, for industry, and for business. We need the water now,” said Senator John Hoeven.
That quote is from my last interview with Senator Hoeven, discussing three particular water projects in the state, specifically the Red River Valley Water Supply, which will provide an emergency water supply to central and eastern North Dakota to help during droughts.
It is costing around $1.36 billion, and it will take use North Dakota tax dollars as well.
But on Tuesday, KX News attended the Red River Valley Alliances’ groundbreaking for a stormwater diversion channel and associated infrastructure.
The goal of this project is for permanent flood and excess water protection in the eastern side of the state. A project worth $1.5 billion.
“This metro area has a long history of flooding and now add 235,000 people strong and growing. It lacks a permanent flood control plan. The second reason has to do with the strong partnerships that have formed to implement this project. That aspect is truly unique and groundbreaking, “said Col. Eric Swenson, with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.
The Colonel says given its “catastrophic history,” without intervention, it will likely continue to flood.
“The first major flood on record was the flood of 1861. Since at least 1861, the city of Fargo and the residents of this River Valley have been a frequent target of mother nature. The 1861 flood was followed up by one in 1871, 1873, 1882, 1893, and the big one in 1897. That one is often referred to, or at least by the North Dakota Historical Society, as the flood of record. Fargo- Morehead dealt with its fair share of flooding in recent events through the 20th century, culminating another great flood 100 years later: the flood of 1997, which has been referenced earlier, and the flood of 2009,”says Swenson.
That is a lot of flooding.
And the last serious drought that dried up the river was all the way back in the 1930’s.
“If a business goes underwater in Fargo again 30% number, they’re probably not going to build in your town. They are just simply going to close, and they’re going to go away. And those people that work in your town and live in your town, go to schools in your town will also then move. The impact of this is much greater than any of us understood. I thought I had a good understanding of the scale of this, but I don’t,” said Cass County Commissioner, Chad Peterson.
So, both the Red River Valley water supply project and the Fargo Moorhead region’s comprehensive flood protection project seem good for those in need.
But what exactly is the need?
Is this Red River Valley at risk of flooding… or a drought?
Are the jobs just temporary, once the projects are complete?
We will be seeking those answers, this is a developing, story.
Speakers from the groundbreaking say that the total cost of the P3 project is less than the cost of damages caused by the 1997 flood.
KX will continue to get your questions answered as they come.