WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published October 18, 2011, 08:20 PM

Little More Than 'Drop in the Bucket' Taken Off of Devils Lake This Year

DEVILS LAKE (WDAZ-TV) - The Devils Lake west-end outlet is back to running at 125 cubic feet per second (CFS).

DEVILS LAKE (WDAZ-TV) - The Devils Lake west-end outlet is back to running at 125 cubic feet per second (CFS).

One of the broken pumps was re-installed last week after it was repaired in California.

he pump broke down in the middle of July and just got back after being rebuilt. But there are still two other pumps undergoing repairs.

"Well it's been a frustrating summer for moving water off of Devils Lake with three of the four pumps going out and only moving 50 cfs or 75 cfs for most of the summer," joint water board manager Jeff Frith said.

"Obviously we are disappointed that we can't take more water off. I guess mechanical things happen that we don't have control over, the state doesn't have control over," Devils Lake mayor Dick Johnson said.

All those mechanical problems meant the outlet didn't move much water off the lake this year.

"The last report that we've seen is about 2.1 inches of water that they've taken off. About 35,000 to 36,000 acre feet of water. When you get 600,000 acre feet coming into the lake, 35,000 is not much more than a drop in the bucket," Frith said.

Bruce Engelhardt, with the State Water Commission, estimates the repairs on the pump will cost about $150,000.

The repaired pump was re-installed last week and started pumping on Friday, but officials are worried about the lack of time left.

"Now I suppose by mid-November with freeze up coming, they'll be shutting those down," Johnson said.

Two more pumps are still under repair and will not be installed soon enough to be used before freeze-up this year.

Even so, local officials are trying to stay positive for next year.

"We have to be optimistic and hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and give us a little less runoff to deal with next year and we'll get by until we get all the pumps running and hopefully 700 cfs will come off the lake," Johnson said.

Engelhardt also said they are planning to put in permanent protection for the west-end pumps so this problem doesn't happen next year.

He said that the east-end outlet is designed differently so that shouldn't have the same problem as the west outlet.