More comprehensive basin wide water management is paramount to the long term safety, flood protection, water and land conservation, and economic viability of the Red River Valley. Thanks to Senator Conrad and the rest of the ND Congressional Delegation for attending this important Devils Lake Summit.
The challenges of Devils Lake rising waters will be presented to FEMA’s Administrator Craig Fugate on Monday May 3rd, 2010
Following is a recent article in the Grand Forks Herald:
Chronically flooding Devils Lake needs a comprehensive flood-control plan that includes a control structure that can protect not only the basin, but thousands of people living downstream, from what people say is the lake’s inevitable overflow. That’s why Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and the rest of the North Dakota congressional delegation is bringing Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and several other federal officials here Monday for a Devils Lake Summit.
By: By Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Chronically flooding Devils Lake needs a comprehensive flood-control plan that includes a control structure that can protect not only the basin, but thousands of people living downstream, from what people say is the lake’s inevitable overflow.
That’s why Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and the rest of the North Dakota congressional delegation is bringing Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and several other federal officials here Monday for a Devils Lake Summit.
“The most important thing is to bring people who have the ability to help us to confront this crisis, and to see it with their own eyes,” Conrad said Thursday in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.
Here is a list of some of the federal, state and local officials who will participate in the summit:
* FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
* Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
* Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
* Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administration administrator.
* Mike Black, Bureau of Indian Affairs director.
* Suzette Kimball, U.S. Geological Survey deputy director.
* John Hayes, National Weather Service director.
* Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
* Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.
* Myra Pearson, Spirit Lake Nation chairwoman.
* North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven.
* Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general, North Dakota Nation Guard.
* Devils Lake Mayor Fred Bott.
Meanwhile, local officials are organizing a rally for Monday morning. They hope to amass 2,000 to 2,500 local poster-carrying people to line College Avenue in a show of support for federal action to help the flood-ravaged region.
“We want to let these people know that we’re very frustrated, but we want to be civil about it, too,” the mayor said.
Devils Lake was at an elevation of about 1,451.5 feet above sea level Thursday. That’s about 28 feet higher than it was in 1993, when the current wet cycle began. In that time, the lake has tripled in size, swallowing up tens of thousands of acres of farmland.
At an elevation of 1,458 feet, Devils Lake will spill out of its banks at Stump Lake, down the Tolna Coulee to the Sheyenne River. The lake rose 3.5 feet in 2009, and currently is about two-thirds of a foot higher than last year’s record.
The National Weather Service forecasts the lake rising to about 1,452 feet this year, based on long-term forecasts and 60 years of past weather data.
The U.S. Geological Survey says there’s a 10 percent chance that the lake will reach that 1,458-foot level in the next decade. But local officials say that 10 years ago, the lake was given less than a 10 percent chance of reaching 1,450 feet.
“We continue to move toward an uncontrolled release of water,” Conrad said. “An uncontrolled release would have major consequences for every downstream city and town.”
The lengthy flood has cost an estimated $1 billion in infrastructure improvements, including road raises, water and sewer systems, as well as to move more than 450 homes and other structures.
Another $200 million is being spent in the next two years to raise roads and to raise and convert a dike protecting the city of Devils Lake into a dam.
The congressional delegation will join local officials in calling for a comprehensive plan that includes a large control structure on the east end of the lake,
“What we really need is something that deals with all of the elements,” Conrad said. “There simply has to be a coordinated plan. My hope is that this administration will learn and respond, and do it in a coordinated fashion. A control structure is part of that.”
President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for North Dakota earlier this month that makes assistance available for emergency protective measures at 75 percent federal funding. The declaration includes the counties of Benson, Ramsey and Nelson along with the Spirit Lake Reservation.
Kevin Bonham is a reporter at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co