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9/6/2006 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

Have you noticed that Devils Lake has dropped significantly this summer? The lake was at an elevation of 1447.89 on January 1, 2006.

It hit an all-time modern high of 1449.20 on May 9, 2006. Since that time it has dropped a foot and a half to 1447.67 on September 3.

At the same time, Stump Lake has been rising. On Jan. 1, 2005 the level was 1424.76. A year later on Jan. 1, 2006, the level was 1436.17, a rise of 11.4 feet in one year. On Sept. 3, 2006 the level was 1443.8, so Stump Lake has risen 7.63 feet this year.

Ever since Devils Lake reached a level of 1447.5, water from Devils Lake has been flowing into Stump Lake, and it isn’t just a trickle.

In August the flow was almost 200 cubic feet per second (cfs). This weekend it was 127 cfs. According to my figures, that’s about 82 million gallons in a 24-hour period. The city of Fargo uses about 15 million gallons per day in the summertime. So the amount of water flowing into Stump Lake today could serve the water needs of five Fargos. Unfortunately, the water is of poor quality.

Sometime this fall, it is expected that Stump Lake and Devils Lake will equalize at about 1447.5 feet. When that happens, we will lose our relief valve and both lakes will rise as one next spring.

There was a lot of evaporation this summer, so we’ve got some breathing space. But who knows what will happen next summer? A five-inch rain in the Devils Lake Basin this spring would be pretty difficult to live with. We are only one major weather event away from disaster.


Aside from being too hot and dry this summer, we’ve had pretty nice weather. There hasn’t been a lot of wind. We’ve had more than our share of beautiful, windless days. Deserving victims of the drought are the mosquitoes, which are few and far between. Minnewaukan hasn’t had mosquitoes for about four years, so there’s more than drought at work here. Nobody knows why, but I think the hordes of bugs (May flies, caddis flies, whatever you want to call them) that come and go have something to do with the demise of mosquitoes in Minnewaukan.


New US 281 from Minnewaukan north to US 2 is now open. It’s a really, really nice highway. The new highway south of town across two bridges will be open later this month. It should be quite scenic. Old US 281 across the lake will remain open for the time being and fishermen will be able to drive out on the old highway north of Minnewaukan and fish to their hearts’ content.

If the lake comes up a foot or two and we get a strong wind from the east, the waves will likely wash out the old highway. Then it will be done. The county hasn’t got the money to repair it. If the lake keeps dropping we might be able to use it for quite some time. If the lake rises as it has in the past, I doubt old US 281 will be open at this time next year. Fishermen should enjoy it while they can.


Here are a couple old ones that bear repeating.

A big meeting was held in Leeds to talk about rainmaking. The rainmaking system proposed to shoot silver iodide crystals into the atmosphere to hopefully bring rain from the rain clouds.

A farmer from York was at the meeting and was most interested in the entire affair. He reportedly asked those heading up the meeting if those little silver iodide crystals could really bring rain.

He was told there was no absolute guarantee but that the crystals do take on water from a cloud and frequently release rain which may not have otherwise fallen.

The farmer asked if he could take one of the crystals home to show to his wife. He was given one and he put it in his pocket and headed for home. He wet his pants three times before he got there.


Lars invented a new kind of Norwegian compass. It was a snoose can with a mirror in the lid. It doesn’t indicate any direction, but it shows you who is lost.


Norman Allen, editor of the Floyd County (Prestonburg, Ky.) Times, wrote this in 1954:

"The Times is late this week and we want to apologize. The trouble started in a cornfield several years ago. From there it grew, fermented, aged in wood, was bottled in bond, and last Tuesday it finally reached our Linotype operator."


The second grade teacher was talking about hygiene. She said, "Do you know where your ear lobe is?"

Little David touched his ears and said, "Here."

She asked him where his nostrils were and he touched his nose and said, "Here."

Then she asked, "Where is your windpipe?"

He looked a little flustered and replied, "I’m sitting on it."

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