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Published February 16, 2012, 05:38 PM

NWS: Devils Lake Flood Risk Minimal

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The latest National Weather Service projections may give people in the Lake Region a reason to celebrate, but both Mother Nature and man-made machines could have a huge impact on lake levels this year.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The latest National Weather Service projections may give people in the Lake Region a reason to celebrate, but both Mother Nature and man-made machines could have a huge impact on lake levels this year.

"It's certainly good news for the region and for Devils Lake."

Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson says the dry winter is just what the Lake Region needed.

He explains, "The past three years have been just heavy runoff. 500,000 acre feet one year, close to 600,000 [the next]."

Johnson says this year's runoff could only bring a third of that amount to the lake, keeping levels manageable.

Lake levels froze this year about a foot below last year's record high. Projections say there's about a 50 percent chance lake levels will rise six inches this summer, but only a 20 percent chance we'll reach last year's record levels.

But Joint Water Board Manager Jeff Frith is keeping his guard up. The Weather Service projects a wet spring, which could still cause problems.

He says, "Any amount of moisture is obviously going to be a concern for us here in the Devils Lake basin."

Mayor Johnson says the projections don't take the outlet pumps into account. He says once the east end pump is ready, the outlet and its western counterpart could help keep flooding at bay.

"If we get that going, and we get some evaporation we have a chance to take another foot and a half/two feet off the lake", he ads."

But with all these different variables, Frith is quick to point out the weather service outlook is a projection... far from a guarantee.

"I like to be very optimistic about it", he says, "but I'm gonna be cautiously optimistic, and come talk to me next fall and we'll compare notes."

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