- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Work has begun on enhanced flood protection for Minot’s water treatment plant.

Contractors have begun pouring concrete for a 1,720-foot-long flood wall along the Souris River. The wall will be 24-26 feet high, with about half of that visible above ground. The $25.7 million project is being funded mostly with federal money, with the state and city together contributing about one-fourth of the cost.

It’s been nearly five years since the river swelled with heavy spring snowmelt and rains and spilled its banks in June 2011, causing an estimated $700 million in damage in North Dakota’s fourth-largest city. The start of work on the water plant flood wall “is kind of a big event for us,” said Public Works Director Dan Jonasson.

The plant is the only source of drinkable water for the city, Minot Air Force Base and many rural residents in the area. More than 100,000 people were told to boil their water when the plant was hit by flooding in 2011.

The flood wall protecting the water plant is expected to be mostly completed by fall, with rock riprap and landscaping work finished by mid-summer 2017.

The flood wall is expected to be only part of much larger flood protection plan for Minot, where more than 4,000 homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed by floodwaters five years ago. Long-term flood protection for the city and the entire Souris River Basin is among a select group of projects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to study this year.

The agency must be involved to secure federal dollars for future construction. Cost estimates for a comprehensive permanent flood protection project are as high as $1 billion.

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