Valley City is often referred to as the “City of Bridges”. The name couldn’t be more fitting with the community tucked next to the Sheyenne River. Unfortunately, the river causes severe flooding challenges to residents, impacting homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The spring is challenging every year, as the Sheyenne River swells from snowmelt and water levels begin to peak around March and April. During the spring of 2009, Valley City encountered a record flood. The city experienced a repeat of the event with a near-record flood in the spring of 2011 and reached flood stage from a single episode of heavy rains that summer.


The devastating flooding the community was experiencing had to be addressed. Our team worked closely with the City to come up with a plan to implement permanent flood protection for the area. The plan is outlined in approximately eight phases, with the first phase concentrating on the area near Valley City State University (VCSU). This area was identified as Phase 1 not only due to public safety aspects but also because the project would provide full protection for the area around the University in a single phase.

KLJ’s landscape architects developed a conceptual design that would capture the local architecture in the design of the project. Additionally, the KLJ team designed storm sewer, two stormwater pumping stations, sanitary sewer, and water main installations. During construction, our team conducted tests where needed to ensure structural stability. We also served as the sole engineer for securing funding from the State Water Commission. Because of this work, permanent flood protection for the citizens of Valley City is now in process with the completion of Phase 1.  However, due to the region’s diverse geography, other portions of Valley City will require multiple phases for flood protection.




This first phase extended from the 3rd Ave SE Bridge near the Old Mill Dam to the Viking Drive Bridge in Valley City. In the past, the neighborhood in the Phase 1 flood protection area, was primarily protected by sandbags placed by hand. More than half of Valley City’s sandbag need was eliminated with the permanent flood protection established by KLJ.

This project utilized a multitude of engineering options to assure the most comprehensive coverage for the city. In addition to floodwalls, clay levees, and removable floodwalls, bioengineered stream bank restoration projects were implemented to help protect neighborhoods with access issues. This innovative solution uses natural vegetation such as conifer trees to use the roots of vegetation to naturally protect the shoreline from water erosion. In areas deemed necessary, a concrete floodwall and clay levee were combined to economically reduce the footprint of the project.

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