Dan King
Dan King · February 8, 2023

ROSEAU, Minn.—A new report released today shows major errors made by the Roseau River Watershed District (RRWD) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in their modeling of the proposed Roseau Lake Project. The report—which was commissioned by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and conducted by Voight Consultants, LLC—finds the initial models underestimated the price of the project by at least $2.4 million and that major miscalculations were made regarding the flooding risk the project poses to nearby properties. 

The Roseau Lake Project, which would hold water in Roseau Lake basin, turning it into a semi-permanent marsh much of the year, is being billed by proponents as a flood mitigation project. However, today’s report lays bare that the project would have a negligible impact on flooding and could even make the situation worse for nearby farms.  

For years, a group of landowners, farmers, and other residents—known as the Roseau County Landowners Coalition—has raised concerns about the devastating impact the project could have on their livelihoods. 

“This report proves the concerns raised by the Roseau County Landowners Coalition that this project would lead to serious flooding on their properties and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said IJ Assistant Director of Activism Chad Reese. “We’re urging the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the permit application for this project because it is clearly contrary to the public interest.” 

The three key findings of the report are:  

  1. The original models for the project mistakenly copied water storage data from one area to a much smaller one. This finding all but guarantees that flooding on the land near the project would be worse than originally estimated. 
  2. The budget did not apply its 25% contingency across all construction costs, meaning that the cost estimate is at least $2.4 million lower than what the project would truly cost. 
  3. The agency will be unprepared to respond to unexpected flood events at the project site. 

“This report confirms the issues we’ve been raising all along about the possible flooding that could severely damage our property,” said Norm Kveen, one of the landowners. “We continue to call on the Army Corps to deny this project.” 

In addition to the impact the project could have for local property owners, it could also have a harmful impact on the area’s economy, which is heavily reliant on farming. Neither the RRWD nor the DNR have ever completed a cost-benefit analysis for this proposed project.