Save the Valley: A Minot Flood Protection Game

In the spirit of starting the discussion on the City of Minot’s Phase II National Disaster Resiliency Competition application, here’s another idea that might make Minot a bit more disaster resilient.

Part of being a flood resilient community is understanding the dynamic forces that funnel water through our town. There is a big river basin above us that extends far into Canada. In total, the Souris River drains a land area that is almost 24,000 square miles — that’s a drainage basin that’s nearly equal to the size of West Virginia.

Needless to say, minimizing risk along a river that drains such a large area is complicated. Above Minot, it involves four reservoirs and a internationally negotiated operational agreement. Along the way we have farmers, ranchers, small towns, bigger towns, and a wild card — the Des Lacs River.

So how do we educate people about the river system, how it’s managed, and how it all affects the people living up and down the valley? Maybe we can teach people without teaching them. Maybe we can play our way to being more knowledgeable and resilient.

Save the Valley: A Minot Flood Protection Game

Manage flows along the river by releasing water from the Rafferty, Boundary, Alameda, and Lake Darling dams. But be careful not to break the international operational agreement and try not flood out the farmers. There are a lot of people living along the river, and your job is to save them all. But be careful, the weather tends to do weird things on the prairie and there’s always the wildcard — the devious Des Lacs — it’s the little river that dumps a lot of water into the Souris River on short notice.

… and if the river gets too high, be ready to start building dikes. Your job is to Save the Valley!

Obviously it’s a real-world simulation game, and no it doesn’t exist yet. It’s just an idea. Some of the variables and scenarios that could be programmed into the game might include:

  • Winter Weather. Dry winters and wet winters will set the stage for the flood fighting season. Put your preparations in place early or face the consequences later.
  • Spring storms. Storms in April and May can foul up the best-laid plans. Be prepared, and make sure you note where they hit. The difference of a few miles makes a big difference in where the water goes.
  • Do your best to keep the river in the channel — when it spills out, farmers lose the fields that feed their families.
  • Be prepared to build emergency dikes. And if we wanted to get more technical, players would be forced to execute actual steps taken by emergency managers such as dealing with storm runoff, managing pump stations, protecting vital infrastructure, and more.
  • And we could add money and budgets into the equation, so players get a real world sense that flood protection measures require dollars. And dollars have to come from somewhere right?

What do you think? Is Save the Valley! worth an investment? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And special thanks to Sean Keeney and the team at MightCouldDo Entertainment for the artwork!

Disaster Resilience Meetings Tonight & Thursday

If you’re interested in learning more about Minot’s Phase II NDRC application and the plans the City has for Minot, make sure you catch one of the meetings this week. Here’s the link to the City’s application.

  • Tonight: 6:30 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium.
  • Thursday: 6:30 p.m. at Perkett School.

Bring your ideas and your comments, public participation will only improve our application.


Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

One comment on “Save the Valley: A Minot Flood Protection Game

Brian Reile

I am curious as to why our elected leaders haven’t challenged US Fish and Wildlife on their policy of the operating level of Lake Darling. Their policy as stated on the Upper Souris Wildlife website is to maintain a two year supply of water for J Clark Salyer. When has this policy ever been used? 1988-1992 were some of the driest years recorded and there wasn’t to my knowledge increased releases from Lake Darling. Federal policy changes all the time on taxes,healthcare, law enforcement and on and on. This is a failed policy that has flooded Minot and the valley way to many times. It is time to drain Lake Darling back to the river channel and have a healthy river system and more flood protection for Minot

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