Becky Farr has shown us some of the aftermaths of the 2011 Mouse River flood in part one of Navigating the Flood Waters of Flood Protection and how far flood protection has come since then, in part two.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimates more than $650,000,000 in damages from the flood.
However, the price tag of flood protection is also high … but for those who live in the valley … it’s priceless.
In the third and final part of Navigating the Waters of Flood Protection what’s next for the billion-dollar project?
Half of the first major milestone, which will protect 63% of Minot, is just about complete.
But, there’s a long way to go, overall. About half of the overall project still awaits its funding.
If funding were to continue at its current pace, engineer and administrator of the Souris River Joint Board, Ryan Ackerman guesses there would be about 40 phases.
The number of phases depends on how much money comes in and the timeline of that money.
“If we had all of the money in place today we could essentially put this out in a couple of phases,” he said.
Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma estimates that the Souris River Basin wouldn’t be protected for about 20 years.
“That, to me, is way too long,” said Sipma. “We are going to work to get that down to a 12-year time frame, if not sooner.”
Ackerman estimates that if funding were to stay at the same pace as the current biennium – which includes $74.5,000,000 granted by the state legislature – it could be closer to about 14 years.
Sipma said, “But to get us in that window of being built faster, we need that number to be north of 100 million dollars every biennium.”
“We are always going to push to find additional funding for the project and we’re always going to look for opportunities at the state level, where there could be a large influx of funding through bonding similar to what Fargo received in the last session .. or through the federal government where we can get a large chunk of funding to complete an entire milestone, potentially,” Ackerman explained.
So how soon the basin is protected, of course, depends on funding.
The three remaining phases that will protect a big chunk of the Minot valley are;
- levee system in the Tierracita Vallejo neighborhood, which is partially funded
- huge diversion channel known as the Maple Diversion that awaits federal funding
- tieback levee that has funding in place, but acquisitions of homes and businesses need to be completed. It’s expected that the construction of this part would start summer of 2022.
Once these three phases are complete, the floodplain will shrink quite a bit.
Once this portion of flood protection is constructed, the Souris River Joint Board can move forward with another major milestone that would protect about another 15% of Minot in the downtown, Eastwood Park, and Roosevelt park areas.
The design process began just this month and there will be public meetings where residents can view layouts and possible alternatives considered by the City of Minot and the Souris River Joint Board.
After that, what’s left within the city is about 25% that includes areas near the State Fairgrounds.
Those phases are in the same place they’ve been since 2012 – the preliminary engineering report – awaiting funding.
While there is a lot more to build, it doesn’t end there. The Mayor explained that when it’s all over, the debt will be on the books for another 20 to 30 years.
There are costs of operations and maintenance of flood control, though they will be much less than the costs of construction.
“The reality of the situation is this – we know what is on our plate,” said Sipma. “So to have that understanding and at least if you don’t have the full grasp of the magnitude, take a good look at how far we’ve come with what has happened.”
The Mouse River has ripped through Minot more than once but hopefully the next time it does will be a much different picture.
Outside of Minot, the Burlington levees are all funded and some construction has begun with the rest on hold until acquisitions are complete.
Three bridges; one in Renville County, one in Sawyer, and one in Velva … will all be replaced to be taller, wider, and longer so more water can flow under it.
Those are all being designed and are expected to be built by the end of 2023.