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Published April 23, 2012, 09:10 PM

Devils Lake Buying Land for Embankment

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Fighting rising water in Devils Lake is far from a cut and dry operation. Keeping the city safe often has collateral damage for some land owners.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Fighting rising water in Devils Lake is far from a cut and dry operation. Keeping the city safe often has collateral damage for some land owners.

Floodwaters don't discriminate and flood barriers must be set up where the water is.

Devils Lake flood prevention includes a 12-mile embankment across town.

"Most of the land is privately-owned land. Understand our embankment approximately, will be a little over 12 and a half miles long when we're done, so it goes through a number of different properties," City Assessor Gary Martinson said.

Martinson says the city will buy land from about 100 landowners for the embankment. The Army Corps of Engineers is providing 75 percent of the funding for the project. The city must follow federal guidelines in order to get the funding.

"Basically it tells us what parcels we have to go through. Full appraisals, partial appraisals and negotiations. There's a whole procedure that's laid out in the acquisition act," Martinson said.

Adam: Devils Lake mayor Dick Johnson realizes how difficult the process is for landowners.

"People live there all their lives and all of a sudden now they've got a big wall of dirt that has to go next to them, so that wouldn't be something anybody would want," Johnson said.

"They know and understand that the project is a benefit to the whole community. Without the project, most of the community would be underwater," Martinson said.

Of course it's not easy to get people to part with their land regardless of the reason. Mayor Johnson says many times it just takes some talking.

"A lot of communications. You gotta have some people skills, and they just try to work it out. They may have a different idea. They may have a different appraisal. You try to find a middle ground," Johnson said.

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