Corps of Engineers, Valley City Held Public Forum on Flood Study Tuesday

“I probably don’t need to tell anyone here that there’s a significant flood risk in Valley City. You’ve all lived through it and been through flood fighting efforts,” began Sierra Schroeder of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a half-hour slide show presentation during a public forum Tuesday.

A light but vocal crowd attended the evening meeting, which was hosted by the Corps and the City of Valley City, that gave residents the opportunity to speak with officials from the Corps about permanent flood protection in Valley City.

During the event, the Corps introduced the public to the Valley City Sheyenne River Flood Risk Management Feasibility study, which allows the Corps to become updated on the hydrology, which is the flow and storage of water, of the Sheyenne River and develop a plan to diminish the risk of and offer a permanent solution to flooding in Valley City and along the Sheyenne River.

The meeting, which was held at the Valley City High School theater, began with an open house at 6:30 p.m. followed by a formal presentation at 7 p.m. A question and answer period began at 7:30 p.m., where Corps and city officials answered questions and responded to concerns of the audience.

During the presentation, Schroeder started by stating the purpose of the study, which is to better understand Valley City’s flood risk while receiving public participation in the process of eventually identifying measures to reduce flood damages and flood-related risks to public health and safety.

“As we move through the study, we invite comments and input. We want the community and interested stakeholders to be a part of the process with us as we go,” Schroeder said.

The study will also examine alternatives to flood protection. Schroeder said the Corps and Valley City haven’t ruled anything out yet in terms of flood protection.

City officials and area residents in attendance took full advantage of the hour-long question and answer period by asking questions and expressing concerns pertaining to erosion, Devils Lake water, retention proposals and the not-so-uncommon 100-year flood--all large factors in Valley City’s flood risk.

Commissioner Matt Pedersen, who’s recently been on the forefront of flood protection in Valley City, playing an active role in Valley City’s flood buyout plan, said he supports a plan in which Valley City would receive Devils Lake water to avoid the risk of a catastrophic flood event.
Commissioner Madeline Luke said she would like the Corps to factor stream bank stabilization and erosion in their study.

District 24 Democrat Sen. Larry Robinson noted the importance for the Corps to not rule out any options, such as proposed retention projects, until the study has been completed.

Another concerned resident mentioned that a proposed dam on the Sheyenne River near Cooperstown would make a whole world of difference for flood problems in Valley City. Corps officials said a preliminary study done by Moore Engineering, which has been factored into this feasibility study, showed the economics and cost for that would be too much to be federally justified.

The feasibility study is a collaborative effort between the Corps and the city estimated to cost $1.5 million. It’s a cost-shared study, shared 50-50 between the Corps and the City of Valley City in partnership with the North Dakota State Water Commission.

The first phase of the study, which includes initial data collection, an update to the area hydrology, an analysis of current flood damage reduction projects and the development of initial alternatives, began in April and is expected to be completed in December. The next phase will be carried out in 2013 and 2014. This phase will compare and evaluate project alternatives and establish a tentatively selected plan. The third phase will include the development of the plan from Phase 2.