FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- A report suggests the flood plain in the Red River Valley will get larger, which could trigger higher flood insurance rates and restrictions on development.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' preliminary report says the 100-year flood plain in Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., would increase by an estimated 2.5 feet.
Such an increase would mean a much wider flood plain throughout the two cities, encompassing many more homes and businesses.
The 100-year flood plain is a key boundary line that affects flood insurance rates for homeowners and businesses. It also shapes zoning, land use and development within its boundaries.
Fargo-Moorhead would see the biggest increase under the preliminary report. The flood-plain elevation would increase 1.5 feet at Wahpeton and Breckenridge, Minn., and 1.4 feet at Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn., according to preliminary figures.
The report released Thursday by the Corps of Engineers is a revision of a flood insurance plan based on figures that are almost 30 years old. There was widespread agreement that the plan should be updated after catastrophic flooding of the Red River Valley in 1997.
James Fay, an engineer for the North Dakota Water Commission, said further analysis will be needed to determine whether the report's calculations are accurate.
''I'm sure the city of Fargo doesn't want the number to get that high,'' he said of the possible 2.5-foot increase. ''If it does stay that high they have to be confident that it's accurate.''
Local officials have been anxiously waiting for hints of where the new flood-plain lines will be drawn because of the economic effects.
''It's a big issue, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it,'' said Bob Martin, director of public works for Moorhead.
Martin and Mark Bittner, Fargo's city engineer, question the validity of using the 1997 flood as the basis for a new 100-year-flood model.
''That's only a single point in time,'' Martin said.
Federal officials agreed Thursday to postpone by one year, to no earlier than September 2001, the target date for finishing the hydrologic study that will form the basis of flood insurance plans.
Terry Engel, the corps' project manager for the hydrologic study, urged local officials to seek public comments.
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