How's that for sticker shock?
The latest version of a flood protection plan through the Souris River Valley was unveiled Wednesday, and it was the first complete plan to include a price tag. And what a price tag it was: $820 million!
Obviously, by the time such a massive project would be built, that cost would increase, likely dramatically. But here's the real question: Will such a project ever be built?
The plan put forth Wednesday includes protection to a level of 27,400 cubic feet per second through the city of Minot. But that means enormous levees in parts of the city, rising high above the river itself, and flood walls along the river in other parts of the city.
If significant changes are made in the management plan for the Souris River, the size and cost of a protection plan would no doubt shrink. We understand why this plan had to be so gigantic and encompassing, because it assumes no changes in river management and a worst-case scenario. But it should serve as a beginning point for further discussions, and difficult questions must be asked and answered before any plan is finalized. That will take time. It could take perhaps 10 years before any project is completed, assuming it can be approved by all entities involved and if funding can be found. But those are monumental ifs.
No one is touting Wednesday's plan as the final plan; rather this is another step in what promises to be a long, long process. Will those next steps shrink the scope and cost of this plan? We'll see.