After the flood, two cities need plans for millions of bags of sand
FARGO, N.D. - Millions of bags filled with sand were used to battle record flood crests in Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn. But now that the flood risk is over, city leaders wonder: Where will the sand go?
Cleanup crews in the two cities are facing about 6 million bags of sand used to prop up dikes, built in a week after the National Weather Service bumped up its Red River flooding forecast by several feet in March.
"We were in crisis mode when we were filling the bags, and that gave people a lot of energy," said Bruce Grubb, a Fargo city official who managed sandbagging operations. "Now that the adrenaline is gone, it's just work."
Most of the sand can be recycled and reused if it's not contaminated with sewage or petroleum products, said David Glatt, environmental chief for the North Dakota health department.
"Obviously, we don't want to see it put in the child's sandbox," Glatt said.
Fargo, which has about 3.5 million sandbags, is likely to use most of it as a barrier on top of its plastic liner at the landfill, Grubb said. The city has equipment to separate the sand from the bags and screen the material, he said.
Moorhead, which has about 2.5 million bags, planned to use the sand for icy roads and other projects, said its city manager, Michael Redlinger.
"We're trying to not take up precious space in our landfill with material that doesn't need to be there," Redlinger said. "We anticipate that we'll be able to keep quite a bit of it."