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Published March 09, 2011, 09:17 PM

Long Road Ahead for Devils Lake Basin, Despite New Outlet

The Lake Region got the good news that a new outlet on the east end of Devils Lake could be functioning by June 2012. But representatives from District 15 say the Devils Lake Basin still has a long road ahead.

The Lake Region got the good news that a new outlet on the east end of Devils Lake could be functioning by June 2012. But representatives from District 15 say the Devils Lake Basin still has a long road ahead.

The North Dakota Senate has approved $120 million for the State Water Commission to build the east-end outlet to prevent further Devils Lake flooding.

But residents from the basin would like to see some of that money go to farmers whose land has been inundated for years. Representative Curt Hofstad said that all of the money needs to go towards the east-end outlet.

Hofstad says there are three main problems in the Lake Region: the waters of Devils Lake continuing to rise, the isolation of farmsteads and communities and the inundated acres.

"All three problems weigh heavily on the community and we have to work to try and solve those," Hofstad said.

Hofstad says there is currently a disaster bill going through legislation that would put about $22 million toward fixing roads and another $9 million for snow removal.

Legislators are working to amend the bill to lower the cost share for cities and townships because many have run out of money or have very little.

"If we can do that, partner with state funds, with federal funds, that's what we'll have to do and in the future that's certainly what we'll look to, work to help those people," Hofstad said.

He says perhaps in the next session, after the outlet is built and functioning and the water has receded a bit, then it may be possible to address the issue of inundated acres.

"We have to be optimistic and hope that we can solve these problems," Hofstad said.

Hofstad also says that if the issue is pushed too hard, there is a possibility legislators might lose the support they had for the $120 million and that could be lost as well.

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