Redesign to Protect: Constructed Wetlands for Flood Mitigation, Education, and Wildlife Habitat along the Red River
More InformationShow full item record
The Red River runs north through the hearts of two densely populated urban cores in North Dakota, Fargo and Grand Forks. In 1997 and 2011, the Red River hit the 50-year floodplain and in 2009 reached the 100-year floodplain. The neighboring cities of Fargo, ND and Moorhead, Minnesota, bordered by the Red River, have currently implemented flood control and protection through dike, levee and wall construction, but has led to a large displacement of residential and agricultural properties within proximity to flood infrastructure. The controversial proposal of the FM diversion has been the only analyzed solution to the inevitable flooding within the FM Red River Valley to date. Under terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), study of future impacts must be thoroughly analyzed to mitigate potential damage to the natural environment and human welfare. The FM Diversion Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) received an award for the fastest ever written, submitting a three-year document in just under six months. Red flags had been raised within the public and private sectors by lack of public input periods and inadequate impact and displacement studies. As of October 2020 push back submerged, lawsuits settled which solidified the project’s approval and future construction. USACE’s disregard of other viable alternatives and potential negative impacts of the diversion project brings opportunity to the profession of landscape architecture. Due to the invasiveness of the proposed diversion, the environment’s plant, animal and natural resources will inevitably suffer. The field of landscape architecture can play a vital role in creating a viable alternative while addressing concerns of flood mitigation, ecosystem services and human welfare. The goal of this study will utilize GIS suitability and water retention analysis to reveal feasible site locations within the FM Red River Valley for constructed wetlands to be implemented. Examining preceding case studies and existing GIS datasets such as elevation, peak flow, surface tension, rainfall response, and vegetation will provide set criteria that will be utilized to pinpoint suitable locations for constructed wetlands to assist in flooding mitigation for large seasonal flooding events. Improvement of water quality, wildlife habitat, and reduction of erosion and storm damage, are important topics that can be mimicked within the Red River Valley. Constructed wetlands will provide a natural and more cost-effective ecosystem in contrast to the creation of an eight billion dollar, half-mile wide, 30-foot deep diversion on privatized farmland taken by eminent domain. Diverting water systems around the city associates fear within the power of the Red River and negatively impacts wildlife that rely on its resources and biome. Implementation of constructed wetlands will serve as the driving flood mitigation mechanism by striving to keep existing Red River biomes, providing new wetland ecosystems and embracing the river’s beauty and its recreational opportunities. The overarching result will reveal suitable constructed wetland locations to fabricate a viable alternative to the FM diversion plan as a more environmentally resilient, natural and cost-effective method.