Weather Wednesday: Through flood and drought, metro area tied to the Red River

Posted: May 23 2019


Most think of the Red River as a river that floods, but this river that flows north has a complex and varying personality.


FARGO — Some people say this is not a good place for a river. Others say this is not a good place for a town.


Either way, we can all agree that it's costly and expensive when the Red River overflows. Even this year's flood, though well-managed, was a bit of a scare, and a major hassle for many.


The higher the water goes, the harder it is to stay out of its way. But several times since the Northern Pacific built a bridge over the Red in 1872, the mighty Red has nearly run dry.


Photos from 1910 show the river without any flow at all, just a sequence of muddy puddles.


During the 1930s, the Red went dry several times. In 1970, the Red was reduced to a summer trickle.


Too little water in the Red can be an even bigger problem than too much because it's the water supply to a growing urban population. We drink it, bathe in it, and rely on it for countless businesses and industries.


In the summer of 1988, low water on the Red caused a severe water shortage, and our population has doubled since that last drought.


Work is scheduled to begin next spring on the Red River Valley Water Supply Project. A plan to pipe up to 74,000 gallons of water a minute from the Missouri Basin to the Red River Valley in times of drought.


So hopefully, the next time the Red runs out of water, the Red River Valley won't.

 

Weather Wednesday: Through flood and drought, metro area tied to the Red River