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Published April 05, 2012, 04:59 PM

ND Delegation Has Plans for More Help for Flood-weary Devils Lake

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - North Dakota's entire congressional delegation has detailed its plan to help Lake Region residents to overcome flooding on Devils Lake.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - North Dakota's entire congressional delegation has detailed its plan to help Lake Region residents to overcome flooding on Devils Lake.

Both North Dakota Senators plan on introducing legislation to help individuals affected by flooding, but that's just a drop in the bucket for federal spending on Devils Lake.

"Federal government now has put up more than a billion dollars dealing with the disaster in the Devils Lake basin. Even in Washington that's a lot of money," Sen. Kent Conrad said.

The heavy spending is likely to continue. Conrad plans to add a voluntary government buyout program for farmers whose land is more than six and a half feet underwater.

"I'm going to be proposing that in the farm bill to give our farm and ranch families another option," Conrad said.

Fellow Senator John Hoeven is proposing a shortened "water bank" easement program so farmers can use any land that gets drained.

"The advantage with easement is that as we work to get the waters out of the lake and water off some of this land, then you have the opportunity to farm it in the future," Hoeven said.

Local leaders asked the delegation to focus on problems facing cities. Minnewaukan mayor Mark Motis says part of the city must be moved but there are no water or sewer systems at the new town site yet. Devils Lake mayor Dick Johnson is worried about funding for major projects once they are completed.

"Now once the embankment is completed we face the major financial challenge to fund the maintenance of the system. Maintaining 12 miles of embankment will impose a major financial burden on the city," Johnson said.

Senator Conrad says he'll have to spend a lot of political capital to convince his colleagues to approve these projects.

"I have felt a sense of urgency every year since this crisis began to deal with problems in the Devils Lake basin. I just hope very much that we're able to get this additional option for our farm and ranch families," Conrad said.

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