Basin study: James River Basin focus of possible flood-control optionsThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spent millions fighting floods in Jamestown in the past 20 years. Now it’s looking at adding more permanent options for controlling flooding here.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spent millions fighting floods in Jamestown in the past 20 years. Now it’s looking at adding more permanent options for controlling flooding here.
Corps officials were here Tuesday at a public meeting to discuss a feasibility study of possible flood-control options for the James River Basin. The study is expected to take three years and cost more than $600,000.
“The intent is to inform the public and involve them in the planning process,” said Jeff Greenwald, project manager for the corps in Omaha. “We are in the process of scoping the project with input from the public and government agencies.”
Local emergency management officials applauded the effort.
“With the amount of flooding recently and the amount of money spent managing floods it seems appropriate to sit and talk to see if there is a better way,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
The corps has spent about $31 million in emergency management and advance measures costs in Jamestown during the heavy flooding years of 1993, 1997, 2009 and 2010, according to the James River Reconnaissance Report.
The heaviest spending was in 2009 with $27.5 million spent, which prevented damages of $6.4 million more than the cost of the advanced measures.
“The flood risk management study identifies potential to develop cost-effective management tools,” Greenwald said. “The cost-benefit ratio has to be at least 1:1 for this to move forward.”
That means for every dollar spent on flood control there needs to be at least a dollar of cost savings.
“The goal of the studies is to come up with a recommended plan and get congressional funding,” he said. “We start with the statement of problems and opportunities.”
The process takes a long-term look at the costs and benefits and includes some problems unique to the James River basin.
“The flat terrain here poses special challenges,” said Gene Sturm, senior economist with the corps. “It makes it tough getting rid of the water.”
Sturm said some large-scale fixes probably aren’t feasible.
“Additional upstream water storage probably won’t be part of the solution,” he said. “We just don’t build upstream dams anymore.”
The fix may include multiple smaller fixes.
“Any structural measures will probably be a combination of things,” Sturm said. “Flood proofing for some places where the density of structures is low and maybe levies in more populated areas.”
The feasibility study is being conducted by the corps working with the James River Joint Water Resource District. The JRJWRD is a consortium of Dickey, Eddy, Foster, LaMoure, Stutsman and Wells counties — the six counties included in the James River basin in North Dakota.
Half the funding for the study is provided by the corps with a quarter funded by the North Dakota Water Commission. Local funding from governments within the JRJWRD is being arranged. During its June meeting, the Jamestown City Council agreed to supply half the required local funding up to $25,000.
Additional meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. June 14 at LaMoure and June 15 at Oakes.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org