Two newly proposed "high-water diversion channels" for the Souris River in the city of Minot proved to be a heated issue at Tuesday night's public meetings held at the Grand International Inn.
Following the first round of public input sessions earlier this month, engineers went back to the drawing board in an effort to lessen the impact of a proposed flood control project through Minot. What the public asked for, and what the engineers later found to be practicable, was the construction of a "Lincoln Diversion" and a "27th Street Diversion".
"With Lincoln School declared a loss by FEMA it made a lot more sense to look long and hard at a diversion channel through that area," said Tim Fay, North Dakota State Water Commission. "We found that we could reduce the length of alignment, the number of road closures and the number of houses acquired quite a bit."
Kim Fundingsland/MDN • Tim Fay, State Water Commission, conducted back-to-back meetings in Minot Tuesday night concerning proposed diversion channel alterations to Minot’s preliminary Flood Control Plan.
The proposed Lincoln Diversion would begin north of the water treatment plant and angle to Broadway Bridge. The 27th Street Diversion would begin near Souris Court and continue east on the north edge of Sun Prairie Grain, a route that takes it directly through both the El Rio Drive area and Holiday Village.
The first meeting held Tuesday night was for those affected by the 27th Street Diversion and residents were quick to express resentment of the plan. A number of El Rio Drive residents who did not experience flooding on their property took exception to the newly proposed plan.
One resident asked, "Why wreck something when it wasn't destroyed in the first place?"
Another El Rio Drive resident, Francis Kramer, loudly told the panel that "This is no good. It's not going to fly."
Tim Fay reminded those in attendance that, "We are still tuning this. This is just the beginning."
A Holiday Village resident explained that she had moved her mobile home out of the way of flood waters and recently paid money to have the home returned. Now, she said, she's in the middle of a proposed diversion channel and wanted to know who would pay for her to move again and where she would go.
"That's a very good question that has to be considered," responded Maj. Gen. Murray Sagsveen, the man appointed to oversee the acquisition process.
Ryan Ackerman, Ackerman-Estvold Engineering of Minot, emphasized to the large gathering that the newly proposed diversions represented an improvement over the original flood protection plan. He added that the course of the Souris through the city would not be altered unless flows or forecasts reached high levels. At that time gates on the river would be closed and the entire river flow would be carried through the proposed diversion channels.
"There's fewer impacts to homes, fewer pump stations required, fewer road closures. It's a more efficient design in terms of cost," reminded Ackerman.
Jason Westbrock, BARR Engineering of Bismarck, showed meeting attendees a comparison chart detailing the number of affected properties in the diversion plan versus the original plan unveiled earlier this month. If both diversions were accepted, said Westbrock, the number of effected properties would be reduced from 863 to 692.
Although the number of people attending the 27th Street meeting was large enough to fill most of the chairs in the room, an even larger crowd began gathering in the hallways and entryways in anticipation of the Lincoln Diversion meeting. That meeting, which began shortly after 8 p.m., required the setting up of additional seating and left many standing around the perimeter of the room.
George Withus, a Minot alderman, opened the question and answer session by inquiring about a Sherwood-to-Westhope diversion channel. The idea had been raised at earlier meetings but dismissed by engineers as being extremely costly, time consuming and, ultimately, not practical.
The meeting continued as the Minot Daily News was going to press. The next version of Minot's proposed Flood Control Plan, including possible changes made as a result of Tuesday's input session, is due to be released Nov. 30th.