Flood protection a priority in Minot: leaders seek funding to finish project on time

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 11:38 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) - A lot of progress has been made in flood protection efforts in the Minot area over the past few years.

But the city of Minot--and the State of North Dakota altogether--need to spend more money to stay on track with flood protection infrastructure.

The 2011 flood affected a quarter of Minot’s homes, displaced more than 11,000 Minot residents, and ultimately cost more than a billion dollars’ worth of damage.

Avoiding another catastrophe like that is high on the list of priorities for the city’s leaders, and that’s why they’re pushing to finish the flood protection program on time.

As the Souris River snakes through Minot, so do memories from the Magic City’s residents about the flood of 2011.

“We had a flood that was almost six times the capacity of what the corps of engineers built back in the 1960s and ‘70s,” said Ryan Ackerman, administrator for the Souris River Joint Board.

Ackerman and the City of Minot are planning to ask the State Legislature to increase flood protection funding for the next ten years to see the project finished on time.

“The economics associated with what happened, and what could happen, if we don’t get this project done, are going to be significant,” said Ackerman.

The City of Minot and the Souris River Joint Board are about halfway done with the job. But because of inflationary costs that come with long-term projects, at the current rate of spending, the project won’t be finished until 2041.

But if they ratchet up spending from $52 million to $76 million per biennium, the project can be finished by 2035. And Minot lawmakers say they believe that can be achieved.

“It’s hard to imagine a better use of state resources than protecting its people against these catastrophic floods,” said Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot.

An updated plan would not only better protect the state’s residents from catastrophe, but it would also save the state money.

“We’ve got the potential to save roughly $50 million total. And the state’s savings are about 60% of that. So, roughly $32 to $37 million,” said Ackerman.

Which is appealing to lawmakers both from Minot and statewide.

“There’s always an appetite in the Legislature to save money on projects that ramp out over ten years, and of course that is our water projects, that is Minot flood control,” said Sen. Hogue.

The Legislative Session begins Jan. 3. Gov. Doug Burgum, R-ND, is unveiling his executive budget Wednesday morning. He’s expected to include money for flood prevention in that, but we don’t know yet how much he plans to allocate for Minot.