The preliminary flood control plan for the Souris River includes a summary of the effect the proposed project would have on river levels from Burlington through Velva. Engineers delivered the $820 million preliminary plan to Minot City Hall Wednesday.
BARR Engineering of Bismarck, in conjunction with Ackerman-Estvold Engineering of Minot, was directed by the State Water Commission to design a "border to border" Souris River flood control project that would protect against a flow of 27,400 cubic feet of water per second, the equivalent of peak flows recorded at Minot's Broadway Bridge during the flood of 2011.
One of the certainties in any plan designed to funnel broad floodwaters into a levee and floodwall system is that the resulting river elevation may actually be higher than previous flows. The preliminary flood control plan details estimates of water surface elevations at several points along the Souris.
If the project were to be constructed as presented, the constricted Souris has the potential to reach higher elevations than what was recorded in 2011. Based on flows of 27,400 cfs, engineers estimate those increases would be .9 feet at Burlington, 2.9 feet at the U.S. Highway 83 bypass on Minot's west edge, 2.6 feet at the Water Treatment Plant, 3.3 feet at Eighth Avenue Southeast and Burdick Expressway and 1.5 feet at the U.S. Highway 2 bypass east of Minot. The proposed flood control plan is designed to defend against those increases.
The elevation of the Souris would actually be lowered downstream from Minot at Velva and Sawyer, dropping .7 feet at Highway 23 and 1.4 feet at Highway 41. Those river elevation estimates are based on proposed bridge improvements that would not interfere with river flow as was the case during 2011.
Several important steps remain in the decision making process before any flood control plan can be implemented. According to the engineer's executive summary, "The estimated time frame for planning, engineering, environmental and regulatory steps for the entire Project would be 5 years or longer."
Among the key elements that must be completed before construction of the project could begin is identifying funding, exploring alternatives, acquiring properties and field investigations. The next step for Minot is an appearance by involved engineers before a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting next Wednesday at 4:15 p.m at City Hall.