Published July 1, 2002 | July 2002 issue
Rather than focusing on losses resulting from the 1997 Red River flood, leaders at the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) are fixated on waffles-not the breakfast kind. The EERC recently launched "The Waffle," a three-year project to determine the feasibility of developing a basinwide system for temporary storage of floodwater in the Red River basin.
Because the basin's maximum flood levels are considerably higher than the level of protection that dikes can provide, an augmentation to structural systems must be found to ensure long-term security. Applying the concept of a breakfast waffle, with its many reservoirs, the flood mitigation effect of the Waffle project could theoretically be accomplished by utilizing low-relief fields bound by county roads in order to temporarily create micro-storage pools during major flood events.
The Waffle system could be invaluable in times of drought as well. During dry years, rather than allowing water from snowmelt to run off, it could be used to help farmers retain soil moisture. Water captured in the spring could also be used to recharge aquifers that are depleted by droughts.