FARGO, N.D.-- While partnership shines across many of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District projects, some of the strongest are those with neighboring districts. One such project benefitting from a district-to-district partnership is the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project.
Following the devastating 1997 Red River Flood, the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area was identified by the USACE St. Paul District as a high-risk floodplain in need of reinforcement. The project was designed to protect the Fargo-Moorhead metro area during times of extreme flooding using river control structures, floodwalls, levees, water storage, and other flood protection measures.
The Omaha District has been supporting the Fargo-Moorhead project, led by the St. Paul District since Feasibility which began in 2008. The Omaha District was selected as a partner to play an integral role in the project as its Agency Technical Reviews (ATR) team. ATR teams are tasked with ensuring the quality and credibility of USACE scientific and technical information is consistent and follows current agency policy and procedures.
The St. Paul District’s request for an appropriate ATR team spanned the entire USACE enterprise. The Omaha District, being home to numerous technical experts in the hydrologic and geotechnical engineering fields, fits the needs of the Fargo-Moorhead project.
“The expertise we have is unique to our district and is really what initially resulted in St. Paul coming to Omaha for assistance,” said Ron Beyer, a project manager for Omaha District’s Civil Works Division. Beyer also serves as the head of the ATR team for the Fargo-Moorhead project.
Over the last 15 years, 56 Omaha District staff have provided technical reviews on 125 ATR submittal packages for this project.
According to Beyer, oftentimes, project engineers have a site visit at the beginning of a study or project to familiarize themselves with the area, though it is generally less necessary for ATR teams. After 15 years of providing ATRs for the St. Paul District, Beyer made it a priority to get Omaha District to the Fargo-Moorhead project in North Dakota for a site visit.
“Just getting to meet them face-to-face and talk to them on-site while we’re working on the project site helps us understand what areas are more critical,” Beyer said.
For smaller projects, an ATR can be completed in about two weeks. For a $3 billion project like Fargo-Moorhead, taking decades to complete, the ATR process is more tedious and ongoing. The first ATRs are started at the project’s feasibility phase and continue to the end of the design process, a period that will last over 15 years long for Fargo-Moorhead, Beyer added.
“Projects of this magnitude only happen once in a career. For me and the Omaha District to be able to apply our technical expertise on this project has been an incredible experience,” Beyer said. “Our team has been able to apply lessons learned on Omaha District projects, as well as learn other methods through our partnership with St. Paul.”
Beyer also explained that building these relationships has far-reaching benefits for both districts.
“Building these relationships is not only good for the project, but good for future projects in the Omaha District. We have five upcoming projects that will eventually need external ATR work and the St. Paul District would be a good fit for a lot of those,” he added.
Through ongoing collaboration and the opportunity to meet face-to-face at the recent site visit, the partnership between Omaha District and St. Paul District is strengthened. Using technical areas of expertise from both districts allows future ATR teams to become better suited to their project’s needs, providing the best effort USACE can offer.
The end state of this project will help to protect nearly 260,000 people, their homes, businesses and property from flood risks.