December 6, 2000
International Joint Commission cautions that
efforts must remain focused on protecting against
In its final report on Red River flooding, released today,
the International Joint Commission (IJC) cautions that,
although the 1997 flood was a rare event, floods of the
same magnitude, or even greater, can be expected to occur
in the future. Economic damages in the United States and
Canada from the 1997 flood approached $5 billion (U.S.
dollars) and flood recovery and mitigation costs continue
While a significant number of flood mitigation actions
have been initiated since 1997, the people and property of
the Red River basin will remain at undue risk until
comprehensive, integrated, binational solutions are
developed and implemented. Solutions for one part of the
basin must take into account the impacts on other parts of
Flood protection for major population centers in the Red
River basin needs immediate attention. The risk of
failure of Winnipeg's existing flood protection
infrastructure is high under flow conditions similar to or
greater than those experienced in 1997. Detailed
assessment of the significant flood risks facing
Fargo-Moorhead should be expedited so that appropriate
mitigation measures can be identified and quickly
implemented. Flood protection works currently being
undertaken in Grand Forks-East Grand Forks also need to
be completed in a timely manner.
The needs of small communities, individual isolated
farmsteads and agriculture must not be overlooked. The
flood plain ecosystem of the Red River basin must also be
protected as part of the process of developing flood
damage reduction solutions.
The IJC finds that there is no single solution to the
challenge of protecting the people and property of the
Red River basin against flood damages. All possible
approaches, including both structural and nonstructural
damage reduction measures, must be considered as part of
a comprehensive plan. The IJC recommendations provide a
blueprint for action for governments at all levels. The
challenge will come in the execution of these
recommendations to ensure that basin residents are
resilient to flooding.
The IJC is a binational Canada-United States organization
established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
It assists the U.S. and Canadian governments in managing
waters they share, including examining and reporting on
issues when asked to do so by the two federal governments.
Living with the Red responds to a request of
June 12, 1997 asking the IJC to make recommendations on
the means to reduce, mitigate and prevent harm from
future flooding in the Red River basin.
More information, including the full text of the report,
may be found on the IJC's web site at
or from the IJC's offices.