Flood Protection Facts

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Flood Protection Type and Costs 

The Flood Protection Project (FPP) for Grand Forks is comprised of two flood control systems working together. A levee/floodwall system holds back high water from the river and the English Coulee diversion channel diverts overland flows around the west side of the city.  Although most water is diverted around the city during times of flood, internal city drainage of the English Coulee must be collected. This water is pumped over the levee by one of the largest pumps constructed in the project, which have the capacity to pump 112,000 gallons per minute. This is one of the largest storm water pumping stations in North Dakota. A series of smaller pumping stations handle runoff or snowmelt within the remainder of the city by pumping the rain and snowmelt water over the levee/floodwalls.

Did you know …

Cost Estimate:

  •  $409 million total (Grand Forks, ND and East Grand Forks, MN)
  • Cost for recreational features: $22 million
  • Federal cost share: $203 million
  • Local (GF) cost share: $135 million*
  • *State of North Dakota is funding 45% of Grand Forks cost share up to $52 million
  • Local (EGF) cost share: $ 65 million (majority funding from the State of Minnesota)

Total distance of floodwalls/levees in Grand Forks (excluding tieback levees):

  • Approximately 8 miles

The top of the levees are about 10-feet wide and sit at a river gauge of approximately 60 feet. The Grand Forks floodwalls are built with an additional three feet of height.

Because of this additional height and the 10-foot width of the levees, the city could successfully fight a 500-year flood by adding clay to the top of the levees.

Total distance of Greenway trails: Approximately 20 miles

Total new flood pump stations in Grand Forks: 12

Largest pipe diameter used on project: 120 inches
(Located on North 3rd Street near Riverside Manor)

Number of closure structures in the floodwall: 7

Number of up-and over-crossings in the levee: 1 for vehicles; 2 for pedestrians

Peak river flow of 1997 flood: 135,000± cubic feet per second

Length of English Coulee Diversion Channel: Approximately 9 ½ miles

Number of golf courses in the GF Greenway: 1  

Costs by the numbers

The flood of 1997 brought great change to the structural landscape of Grand Forks.  More than 1,000 houses and nearly 500 other structures were demolished for reasons such as:

  • Posing a threat to public health and safety
  • Flood-damaged beyond repair
  • Voluntarily bought out by the city from high-risk flood areas to avoid future damage
  • To clear land for the city’s new flood protection project that includes an extensive network of earthen berms and concrete floodwalls
  • To reuse land for a construction of a new structure

According to the city’s planning department:

  • 694 dwellings were demolished (permits issued)
  • 493 other structures were demolished (permits issued)
  • 850 properties were purchased in voluntary buyout program (1997-1998)

In addition, 161 houses and 414 other structures were moved to other locations, mostly to clear land for the flood-protection project.