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Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk of the North Dakota National Guard and Governor Jack Dalrymple tour the flooded Red River Sunday in north Fargo. Carrie Snyder / Forum Communications Co.

31 miles of I-29 north of Fargo closed due to flooding

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News Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/1/1130/20110411041111dalrymple.jpg?itok=K0-oSAfI
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31 miles of I-29 north of Fargo closed due to flooding
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ARGUSVILLE, N.D. -- This community just north of Fargo was the scene of two water rescues Sunday as flooding in the area forced the closing of 31 miles of Interstate 29 and prompted officials in nearby Harwood and Casselton to the southwest to halt water use.

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation Sunday afternoon closed I-29 between exits 69 and 100 until further notice after several inches of water began coursing over the highway between mile markers 72 and 84.

A detour sent traffic through Casselton and Blanchard between Cass County Road 20 just north of Fargo and North Dakota Highway 200 just south of Hillsboro. The detour is about 33 miles longer than the stretch of interstate it replaces.

Before the highway was closed early Sunday evening, the flooding was causing an hour delay for northbound traffic, according to Bob Walton, district engineer for the department of transportation.

The expanse of water in the area reminded one highway official of Devils Lake:

"As far as you can see, it's water," said Bruce Nord, maintenance superintendent for the transportation department.

Nord said the stretch of highway hasn't experienced flooding conditions since the early '70s. The affected portion of the interstate had been rebuilt in recent years, but not raised.

Nord warned that the interstate in this area could be closed for several days.

Casselton officials issued a plea Sunday afternoon asking residents to stop using water, as the city's sanitary sewer system was backing up due to heavy inflows into the system.

The situation was similar in Harwood, where residents were also being asked to restrict water use due to sewer problems.

Casselton and Harwood resident were told to make sure sump pumps were discharging outside and not into the sanitary sewer.

Casselton officials also warned that the detour resulting from the closure of I-29 would be sending additional traffic through town.

Moorhead's wastewater treatment system remained under stress Sunday from high flows apparently caused by homeowners continuing to discharge sump pumps into floor drains, City Manager Michael Redlinger said.

Mayor Mark Voxland has said if the wastewater treatment plant's overloading problem becomes too severe, it could cause sewers to backup.

On the plus side, Moorhead's network of dikes appeared to be in good shape Sunday and there were no reports of problems, Redlinger said.

The Minnesota National Guard will be conducting a training exercise in Moorhead starting about 10 a.m. today.

The Guard's quick response force will place about 2,500 sandbags between an existing clay levee on 40th Avenue south and higher ground immediately next to the levee.

Dave Olson is a reporter for the Fargo Forum, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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