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Published February 16, 2011, 08:14 PM

Another Barnes Co. Solution Looks At Diverting Devils Lake Water

Barnes county has come out with a resolution, a petition and now another option for an outlet on Devils Lake. County Commissioners met with the Upper Sheyenne Water Resource Board in Carrington, ND, Wednesday to ask for their support.

Barnes county has come out with a resolution, a petition and now another option for an outlet on Devils Lake.

County Commissioners met with the Upper Sheyenne Water Resource Board in Carrington, ND, Wednesday to ask for their support.

Things are heating up as the Devils Lake Basin and Sheyenne River Valley head into flood season. No one in either region wants a catastrophic disaster, but everyone knows that water is coming whether they like it or not.

"We're here to support our community and stand up for what's right for our community, just like the people in Devils Lake of the upper basin are doing for their community," Barnes County commissioner Phil Leitner said.

Leitner says Barnes County commissioners understand what is taking place in the Lake Region, but feel that all options need to be considered.

Commissioners are proposing a three-pronged outlet system.

Commissioner John Froelich says the plan calls for an outlet into the Goose River, another into the James River, along with the Devils Lake outlet to take pressure off the Sheyenne River.

Frolich's concern stems from the Federal Task Force report over water release estimates.

He's says, the report calls for releasing 1300 to 1400 cubic feet-per-second of water out of Devils Lake and into the Sheyenne river for a 6-month period annually to maintain water levels on Devils Lake from overflowing…that would put too much pressure on the Sheyenne river, cause river bank erosion and would be unacceptable for downstream residents.

"The problem is, if the Sheyenne has to take all the water as its currently planned, there's going to be enormous costs to those downstream communities," Leitner said.

Officials from the Devils Lake basin were happy to hear all possible solutions, but time needs to be considered in this plan. Because the James River flows to South Dakota, talks would have to take place, which takes time.

"The water commission has looked at various options for removing water off of Devils Lake for a number of years and for a number of different reasons they've come up with this won't work, this will possibly work," Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board member Jeff Frith said.

Frith says the outlet idea is a more positive solution to the resolution recently released by Barnes County.

"I think that was one of the things that was not mentioned in their resolution was the fact that they're in support of removing more water off of Devils Lake anyway possible other than sending it down the Sheyenne River," Frith said.

Both parties agree that everyone needs to work together.

"We need to come up with a state-wide water shed management plan which is identified in the federal working group, and then we need to make decisions based on that plan," Leitner said.

Barnes County commissioners asked the Upper Sheyenne Basin Board to consider taking part in a study of water retention potential in the upper basin.

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