Sheyenne Diversion

The Sheyenne River is one of the major tributaries of the Red River. It originates in Sheridan County in central North Dakota and meanders east until it nears McVille where it begins turning south. The river continues south through Griggs County, Barnes County before it turns northeast near Lisbon. The river forms Lake Ashtabula behind the Baldhill Dam north of Valley City. The river flows are regulated by dams that provide flood control and can be used to supplement downstream discharge during low flow.  

Sheyenne Diversion Overview

The Sheyenne is a "perch" river which means banks are higher than adjacent ground. Once the river is full, it breaks out and flows across the land. From Lisbon, the river crosses the Sheyenne National Grassland then near Kindred enter Cass County. This stretch of the river is designated a National Wild and Scenic Riverway. From Kindred, the river flows north-northeast through the Red River Valley. The river passes through the west side of Horace in Reed Township and cuts through West Fargo as it makes its way to the Red River about 15 miles north of Fargo North Dakota. From here the Red River flows north to Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba Province of Canada.
Diversion Map

The Creation of the Diversion

Unlike Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo and nearby Horace are protected by permanent flood protection in the form a diversion channel that channels the waters of the Sheyenne River. In the 18-year history of the Diversion it has never failed and has stood against the record level floods of 1997 and 2009.

The Horace Diversion which runs south and west of Horace take the Sheyenne River through a channel that runs 7.4 miles to the north which then connects to West Fargo Diversion south of I-94 where the river diverts around the city. The channel rejoins the Sheyenne River north of 12th Avenue North where the river continues its flow to the Red River.

The construction of the diversion began in the Spring of 1990 and was finished in the Fall of 1992

The diversion in West Fargo features:
  • 6.8 Mile Diversion Control
  • 12.7 Miles of Protection Levees
  • 4 Diversion Structures
  • 2 Pumping Stations (54,000 GPM and 66,000 GPM)
  • 1 Railroad Bridge
  • 4 Highway Bridges
  • 6 Road Raises
The Diversion Channel is designed to discharge 4,600 cubic feet per second.

The Cost of the Diversion

The total cost of the diversion was $27,800,000 and it was paid for in a variety of ways:
  • Federal Funding-Corps of Engineers - $17,000,000
  • State of North Dakota Funding - State Water Commission $2,000,000
  • Department of Transportation $1,025,000
  • Local Funding - Special Assessment District-$7,500,000
  • Interest Earned - $275,000

Property That is Protected by the Diversion

Property Type Original Since 2008

  • Developed Properties 4,1507,095
  • Developed Property Value $280,000,000 $1,395,000,000
  • Acres of Developed Land 2,250 3,580
  • Acres of Agricultural Land 2,800 1,350

Document & Description