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Channel Diverts Disaster From Browns Valley

March 17, 2010, 4:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Channel Diverts Disaster From Browns Valley
BROWNS VALLEY, MN - The Little Minnesota River is roaring. That's the river that overflowed into the town of Browns Valley, Minnesota in 2007. But a project that's still in progress is saving the town from a repeat disaster.

The state of Minnesota spent $4.2 million to create the diversion channel. It's located just outside Browns Valley. Crews will resume work to finish it up this summer, but despite a few issues, it's already doing a very important job.

The roar of the river just south of Browns Valley is impressive, even more so when you consider that the road is from the diversion channel. Most of the year, it's dry.

“Ninety-five percent of the time, outside of a flood in the spring or heavy rain, this channel won't be used. But this is what the channel is for, it’s protecting the community," Mayor Jeff Backer Junior said. 

Backer says without this new channel, just carved in the ground last summer, this water would have flowed into the town. It could have been the worst flood the city has ever seen.

"We are seeing more water this year than 2007. It’s down about two feet from its peak. It's been coming down the river since last Sunday at this rate," Backer said.

To give you an idea of just how much water is flowing through the channel, in the very center, it's 25 feet deep. All the pressure has caused damage. The road along the bridge washed out.  Fourteen truckloads of boulders have stabilized the area, but there's no doubt more of the levee system will float down stream.

"We're estimating that the amount of damage is around $200,000, but if it went into the community, it would be millions," Backer said.

The Browns Valley Diversion Channel is the fastest control structure built in Minnesota history.

Water first flowed into the channel this past Sunday, on the three-year anniversary of the 2007 flooding.

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