University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The Boondoggle You Don’t Know About

March 6, 2015Patrick NunnallyEvents, Program & AnnouncementsComments Off on The Boondoggle You Don’t Know About

That’s my personal editorial opinion about the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project, a multi-billion dollar engineering monstrosity that will consume large amounts of farmland, disrupt sections of counties in two states, all to reduce (eliminate?) flooding of the Red River at Fargo ND.  This thing has been batted back and forth between the states forever, with Minnesota reluctant for a long time to come up with its share of the required cost-share.

I’m sorry, but my understanding is that the Red is going to flood, repeatedly.  The land is practically flat, and, temperatures being what they usually are, the headwaters thaw in winter before the mouth of the river at Hudson Bay does.  This means that liquid water is always flowing toward not-yet-liquid water, e.g. a “natural” ice dam every year.  Add a changing climate, and it seems reasonable to ask why we are doing this, and how are the costs and benefits really being measured.

But enough about my opinion.  The monthly Sip of Science talk next Wednesday will feature two engineers involved in designing the project.  Join them and learn the facts about how the project will actually work.


The Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project
Miguel Wong, Barr Engineering and Chris Ellis, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015  5:30p.m.  
Aster Cafe125 SE Main Street, St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis
No cover, Please RSVP!

A SIP OF SCIENCE bridges the gap between science and culture in a setting that bridges the gap between brain and belly.  Food, beer, and learning are on the menu in a happy hour forum that puts science in context through storytelling.

March 11th Event –

For decades the cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, have been plagued by flooding from the Red River of the North and its tributaries.  As part of a team of consultants hired by the two cities, Barr worked with the USACE St. Paul District to develop and compare solutions to the problem—and provide relief to an area that, in the past 16 years, has experienced six of the 10 largest flood events since 1897. Expedited after the flood of record in 2009, the fast-track feasibility study for this large and complex undertaking was completed in just three years, and the project is now in final design. The ultimate goal of the project is construction of a 36-mile-long diversion channel to direct floodwater around the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. This presentation will highlight work on two unique project features: the Maple aqueduct and spillway structures, and the artificially constructed meandering low flow channel.

The talk takes place during happy hour at the Aster Cafe || Food and Drink Available for Purchase


Born and raised in Peru, Miguel Wong obtained his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering there. He earned his master’s in hydraulic engineering from the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, and his PhD from the University of Minnesota. His doctoral work at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory yielded a proposed modification to a well-established bedload-transport equation that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers subsequently incorporated into its HEC-RAS modeling software. Miguel, who now has more than 20 years of experience, has acquired the last nine as a senior water resources engineer at Barr Engineering Co., consulting on hydrologic modeling, hydraulic design, river-mechanics analysis, and water management.

Chris Ellis is a Senior Research Associate at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. With over 30 years of experience, Chris is engaged in fundamental and applied water and wind related research. He is one of the Lab’s primary resources for experimental and measurement design and implementation including scientific/engineering systems design, facility design and fabrication, and high speed automated data acquisition and analysis.


A SIP OF SCIENCE is a science happy hour sponsored by the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED). It is a chance to hear about new and exciting research over beer, in a cool bar.  Come talk with the experts about their efforts to address some of the Earth’s most pressing problems. NCED’s A SIP OF SCIENCE brings the wonder of science to happy hour.

Get more information at:

Related Posts

Comments are closed.

Contact Us!
Send us a note at to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.