Grand Forks Herald
WARREN, Minn. — Anticipating the need to build more water retention projects in northwestern Minnesota because of the inevitable downstream impacts from the Fargo-Moorhead diversion, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar came here Monday to look at one of the success stories in flood control.
After Warren was flooded for the third time in two years in 1997, a combination impoundment and diversion has kept the Marshall County seat dry ever since.
“In its five years, it has prevented Warren from being flooded at least two more times for sure and possibly a third time,” said Nick Drees, administrator of the Middle Snake Tamarac Rivers Watershed District.
The $18 million impoundment-diversion was built in unprecedented speed, Drees said, because of the influence of former Mayor Richard Nelson, whose name is on the project. It was functioning in 2005, taking less than half the normal time required.
“We’re concerned there will be more problems with the North Dakota diversion,” Klobuchar said about Army Corps of Engineers’ estimates of river rises downstream from Fargo-Moorhead.
“It’s very possible what we have here will be one of the solutions. It may not be the exact solution because we need to look at the options community by community.”
Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents northwestern Minnesota’s Seventh District in the U.S. House, has announced that he will be pushing in Congress for a series of projects that will restrain or delay runoff from reaching the Red River. The projects will be run through the Department of Agriculture, just as Warren’s was.
Peterson has used Warren’s project, plus several other impoundments within 10 miles of Warren, as an example of what is needed.
Warren is now out of the flood plain, meaning residents don’t need to buy flood insurance. The security of the flood control also has meant more housing and business starts in the town of 1,600, said Cam Fanfulik, executive director of the Northwest Regional Development Commission.
“It works,” Drees said. “But we’re going to need to do a lot of big impoundments to offset what will happen with the diversion. It will have to be huge.”