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Official: All permanent flood solutions on table

FARGO - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will seek input from Fargo-Moorhead residents on plans for permanent flood protection during two meetings May 19 and 20.

The public meetings are part of a process required to determine if an environmental impact statement will be needed for the proposed flood control alternatives, said Craig Evans, a corps project manager based in St. Paul.

While a levee plan and a diversion have been examined as part of the $5.4 million feasibility study, Evans said other options need to be examined before final recommendations are rolled out in December 2010.

"The biggest news that we'll be able to share in May is the magnitude of the expected damages if we don't do anything" to control flooding, Evans said.

Other flood control measures the corps may evaluate include flood walls, water storage, greenways, and relocating homes, businesses and other structures.

As floodwaters have receded, politicians on both sides of the Red River have called for permanent flood protection to be put on a fast track. Several also say the corps' study must be sped up.

Evans said it would be hard to speed up the study, which began in September, given the fieldwork, tests and hearings required by federal law.

"We laid out the most aggressive schedule that we thought we could do," Evans said.

Congress will use the study to determine whether the project is a wise use of tax money, he said. The completion date is also timed for when Congress assembles its omnibus authorization bill, Evans said.

Half of the study's cost is paid for by the corps. The rest is split between state and local governments.

If you go

* What: Permanent flood protection meetings

* First meeting: May 19 in Fargo's Centennial Hall at the Civic Memorial Auditorium.

* Second meeting: May 20 in Hansen Theatre at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

* When: Both meetings begin with an open house at 5:30 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7 and a question-and-answer period until 9.