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2/22/2006 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

There’s talk of the counties in the Devils Lake Basin purchasing land near Stump Lake where the natural outlet to Stump Lake (and Devils
Lake) lies. The primary purpose of purchasing the land is to have the land in the ownership of the counties so the US Army Corps of Engineers can’t construct a plug to keep water from flowing out of the lake naturally at an elevation of about 1459 feet above sea level. The present level of the lake is 1447.84, so the lake would have to rise 11 feet for that to happen. Secondly, the natural outlet of Stump Lake to the Tolna Coulee has filled with silt and the counties want to clean out this silt to allow water to flow to the coulee and then to the Sheyenne River.
We on the west end of the lake have been protected because when Devils Lake’s elevation reached 1446, water began flowing into Stump Lake rather than rising. Stump Lake was at a level of about 1401 in 1996. Today it is 36 feet higher. The past two years alone it has risen 21 feet. So if the wet cycle continues, Stump Lake is liable to be nearly full this fall and our pressure relief valve will be gone.
At that point, the two lakes will rise as one if the wet cycle continues.
Why would the US Army Corps of Engineers install a plug so the water couldn’t flow out naturally? Because of water quality. The water in Stump Lake is of very poor quality. As a matter of fact, it’s so bad, it’s actually a pollutant.
Here’s a table from 1997 that shows the concentration of sulfates and total dissolved solids (TDS) in milligrams per liter:
Body of Water Sulfates TDS
Sheyenne River 100 480
DL West Bay 470 1,080
DL Main Bay 660 1,430
DL East Bay 1,140 2,360
East DL 3,460 6,580
W Stump Lake 3,600 6,590
E Stump Lake 8,200 14,000
Sea Water 35,000
The state of North Dakota has laws against polluting waterways and if the counties send Stump Lake water to pollute the Sheyenne River, the State Health Department is obligated by law to stop it. That poor quality water would be terrible for Valley City, for instance. The water plant won’t be able to make the water good enough for use. In addition it would affect Fargo, Grand Forks and other cities on the Red River. The state absolutely cannot allow this to happen. Rest assured the state would put a stop to any effort by humans to send Devils Lake water into the Sheyenne from Stump Lake.
If the lake keeps rising and threatens to overflow, the state will call upon the US Army Corps of Engineers to put a plug in the natural outlet. If the state won’t, the federal government will. You can bet on that because the federal government won’t break the Boundary Waters Treaty with Canada.
We’ll just have to swallow more water. It won’t make any difference to Minnewaukan because if the lake rises to 1453 or so, the sewer system will fail and the people of Minnewaukan will simply have to get out.
It appears to me that an east end outlet is a pipe dream. I could be wrong, though. If you have information or views to the contrary, let’s see what they are in a letter to the editor.
This item is making the rounds of the weekly newspapers.
To All the Kids Who Were Born In The 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright-colored, lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pickup on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing!
We would leave home in the morning and played all day. It was OK as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day and we were OK.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes and after running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms. We had friends and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to the houses of friends and knocked on the doors or rang the bells, or just yelled for them!
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failures, success and responsibility and we learned how to deal with it all! And you are one of them! Congratulations!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good. And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?

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