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8/17/2005 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

Writing in the Emmons County Record at Linton, Allan Burke says, "When I was a kid, interfaith marriages were opposed from the pulpit by the clergy.
Nowadays, people are just happy when couples get married."
The Devils Lake Outlet is ready to go and may even be operating as you read this.
We have been hearing for years from the State Water Commission (SWC) and politicians that the outlet will remove "up to four inches per year from Devils Lake."
That’s true. Under ideal conditions the outlet can easily handle 100 cubic feet per second (cfs). It’s an engineering marvel.
The problem is in the politics. The permit for discharge of Devils Lake water into the Sheyenne states that the blended Devils Lake-Sheyenne River water cannot exceed 300 milligrams per liter (mgl) of sulfates. Sheyenne River water contains approximately 100 mgl of sulfates and the water in the West Bay of Devils Lake is approximately 500 mgl of sulfates. The two bodies of water have to blend so no more than 300 mgl are contained in the blended water.
So if the river is low, not much water can be let out. That’s going to be the case most of the time. The average flow of the Sheyenne River near the outlet last week was 21 cfs. I’m not a hydrologist, so I don’t know how to do the exact figuring, but I can look at these figures and tell you that under those conditions the outlet probably isn’t going be able to operate at one-tenth of its capacity.
Quite honestly, with that 300 mgl constraint, the claim of taking "up to 4 inches per year off the lake" is wildly optimistic.
After a couple years of pointing out this very problem in this column, the SWC is apparently coming around to my way of thinking because the chief engineer of the SWC admitted last week that the outlet may be limited to 10 cfs this year. No kidding! What a surprise!
The other side of the coin is that if the river is high, not much can be let out because the river won’t be able to handle it without flooding downstream areas.
I’m guessing the number of days in a year the outlet can run at 100 cfs can be counted on your fingers.
We just witnessed the waste of $28 million of taxpayer dollars. The politicians stubbornly pushed this outlet because it showed they were doing something, even if it won’t help flooding at all. It’s all posturing.
The media have been totally suckered. We saw headlines that said relief from flooding in the Devils Lake Basin was at hand. Somebody didn’t do the homework.
The People to Save the Sheyenne have been crying wolf. This anemic outlet isn’t going to damage anyone downstream. The 300 mgl restriction will see to that.
Canadians needn’t be worried either. Water quantity will be minimal and there’s little possibility of organisms thriving in Devils Lake that aren’t present in the Red River or Sheyenne River. Waterfowl moving between the different bodies of water over the centuries should have carried virtually all organisms back and forth.
The outlet won’t help the flooding problem and it isn’t going to hurt anybody but the taxpayers and the property owners on whose land the outlet intrudes.
The money could have been put to far better use buying out farmers and ranchers whose land was flooded by the lake.
I’m getting quite a kick out of watching adults make absolute fools of themselves over the "Fighting Sioux" nickname at UND. Apparently a majority of the Spirit Lake Nation (a Sioux tribe) is tolerant of the name. But the National Collegiate Athletic Association has decreed that the nickname is not kosher.
This isn’t the first time this has come up. A few years ago in this column I predicted this controversy would continue until the nickname is changed.
I shouldn’t say I told you so, but I did.
It’s time for the nickname to go because the controversy will continue on and on until the name is changed. That’s a good enough reason to change it.
There’s nothing sacred about the name. It isn’t mentioned in Genesis, for instance. I don’t think it’s demeaning to the Sioux, but I’m not a Sioux, either. It’s all a bunch of foolishness. Change the name. The sun will still shine tomorrow morning.
If there’s a new nickname, I suggest the nickname should be something everyone likes. Maybe the UND Pizzas. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pizza.
Or maybe the UND Red Peppers. Generations of UND students have gorged themselves on the spicy food at this landmark cafe.
Or maybe the UND Fighting Norwegians. I doubt anyone would take offense at that.

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