WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published February 23, 2011, 10:25 PM

Cost of Flood Control Adding Up

North Dakotans have been dealing with rising water for nearly two decades, and the problem is spread across much of the state. Large sums of money have been spent battling flood waters and it seems there's no end in sight.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAZ

This is part one of a two-part series by reporter Travis Skonseng on what it takes to keep North Dakota water in its place


North Dakotans have been dealing with rising water for nearly two decades, and the problem is spread across much of the state. Large sums of money have been spent battling flood waters and it seems there's no end in sight.

As floodwaters creep closer and closer to communities across North Dakota, more work, time and money are being put toward permanent protection.

Devils Lake is one area of concern.

Since 1993, the Lake has risen 30 feet to 1451.7 and quadrupled in size. It covers 180,000 acres, an increase of more than 210 square miles.

Most flood protection for Devils Lake is not the normal scene in the Red River Valley. It's a series of projects, too many to count, not one large control structure like the proposed Fargo diversion.

Corps estimates show the governments have spent more than $1 billion to fight the rising lake since 1993. $852 million of that, federal funds. That's more than $66,000 per person for the 15,000 people protected in the area.

That may seem astonishingly high, but in reality, the sheer number of roads, highways, and bridges in Ramsey, Benson, and Nelson Counties, impacted is significant. Most have been raised multiple times, some as high as 15 feet. Others, like Highway 281, have been moved.

$364 million federal dollars alone has gone into raising roads to keep transportation running smoothly and turning some roads into dikes.

It's no easy fix. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed or been forced to relocate with the road raises and flooding. FEMA has even bought out entire towns, threatened by water, like in Churchs Ferry.

A $30 million outlet built back in 2005 has helped. But not enough. Crews expanded it last summer to increase capacity to 250 cubic feet per second.

The cost: another $12 million.

Most of the cost of the outlet was paid by the state.

The city of Devils Lake has raised its earthen levee five times since 1984. The latest costing about $153 million. The city payed $2.9 million of it through a 1/4 percent sales tax hike to seven percent.


Thursday night, we'll compare Devils Lake flood control to the proposed Red River diversion.

With strapped budgets across the board, will there be enough money for both projects?

Travis Skonseng, WDAY-6 News.>

Tags: