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Published December 21, 2009, 02:10 PM

Nelson County Working On Lowering Flood Waters Near Michigan

People living in and around the city of Michigan, North Dakota have been threatened by sheet water and the rising Lake Laretta. County and city officials are hoping a pump station project that's been delayed for years now may help lower the water level.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

People living in and around the city of Michigan, North Dakota have been threatened by sheet water and the rising Lake Laretta. County and city officials are hoping a pump station project that's been delayed for years now may help lower the water level.

There's about 22,000 acres of sheet water in the area. Officials are hoping to lower that water 5 to 6 feet in the next few years.

Allen Orwick/Michigan Mayor: "We're at the point now where our city is threatened if we get a significant rain event."

The floodwaters threatening Michigan may be mostly frozen now, but water levels have been continuing to rise. State and local officials are working on a project that would include a pump station, instead of a gravity pump.

Ben Varnson/Nelson County Water Resource District Chair: "Marrying the Enterprise Drain with the Michigan Spillway feature and have one pump station."

Varnson says the culverts north of Michigan are half full and this could prevent water from draining away from the city.

Ben Varnson: "We're going to move to another level of support because we may not be in a disaster, but we're never in recovery."

At least 60 percent of the water comes from Ramsey and Walsh Counties. The pump station would operate at 50 CFS throughout the pumping season. Although the State Water Commission approved the project in 2005, it was never done.

Allen Orwick: "Any time you're working with a project like this you have so many people and agencies involved. We've had hurdles with the State Water Commission."

The project could cost at least 1.3 million dollars. Assessments will pay for part of it, but it's too soon to know how much the local match will be.

Ben Varnson: "That part will be all coming together as we seek our cost share and our grants through the legislature."

The project may be bid as soon as April, and it should be done by the fall of 2010.

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