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5/20/2009 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

When one stands on Minnewaukan’s Main Street and looks east, it’s a scary sight. It looks like Devils Lake has swallowed the east end of the street. It hasn’t, but that’s what it looks like.

Nobody ever expected to see the lake this high and nobody ever expected Minnewaukan to actually be threatened by the water. But that’s what’s happening.

The boat ramp near where the fair barns stood is now flooded. It isn’t useable any more. Fortunately, the Minnewaukan Community Club saw that the boat ramp area could flood and saw to it a second boat ramp was established near the city’s inert landfill half a mile south of town. Deeming it important to have a boat ramp on the west end of the lake, the ND Game and Fish Dept. stepped forward to place the boat ramp at that location. It is thought a second ramp will be installed there. The ND Game and Fish Dept. is going to pay for raising the approach road to the ramp. This road is threatened by the lake.

Gov. John Hoeven was given a whirlwind tour of Minnewaukan on May 13.

He saw the three lift stations that will be raised. He saw the water from the lake threatening the town from the ditch in front of the county shop. He saw how the lake has claimed D Street on the north end of town. He saw how the lake threatens the northwest portion of town. He was told that those sewers which were not lined in 2000 will be relined, so the entire system will probably be secure. Gov. Hoeven has committed $300,000 for this project and the city has arranged to borrow about $50,000 to complete the project. It is not known whether FEMA will take part in the project.

If FEMA agrees to help fund an additional project, a new lift station will be built on higher ground and sewage from the other three lift stations will be sent to that station to be sent to the lagoon through a new underground pipeline to the lagoon. The old sewage line to the lagoon is located under the bed of the inland ocean known as Devils Lake.

If that is done, Minnewaukan should be secure to about a level of 1455. The lake is expected to rise to 1451 this year, so we’ve only got about four feet to go. But for the lake to rise four feet would require several winters like the one we had last year. That seems unlikely. Minnewaukan will probably be around for the foreseeable future. But if the unexpected occurs and the lake does rise to 1455, the city will probably be forced to ask for a buyout.

In the meantime, flood insurance is very important because flood insurance will probably play a part in a buyout, if there is one.

These are exciting times to be living in Minnewaukan. Particulary because this is the first time in history the lake has threatened the town.

When the area was settled beginning in 1883, the lake was at an estimated level of about 1436. From 1883 to 1940, the lake dropped to a level of 1400. Since then, it has been rising in fits and starts.

It started rising with a vengance in 1993 and today is at a level in excess of 1450. It’s risen 50 feet in 69 years.

Nobody knows when the lake will stop rising. It will because that is the natural state of its being. The lake has always risen and fallen.

Whether the lake will rise high enough to flow out naturally to the Sheyenne River is the question. That will occur if the lake rises to a level of about 1459. Some say 1457 is the magic level because the water will percolate through sandy soil at the point of outflow.

Nobody knows for sure.

The lake has risen high enough to flow into Stump Lake countless times in its 10,000 year history. Today the two lakes are one. But only on a handful of occasions has it risen high enough to flow naturally into the Sheyenne. It may stop rising next year. It may rise higher next year. Nobody knows.


From the e-mails:

Things got ya down? Consider this:

In a hospital’s intensive care unit, patients seemed to die in the same bed on Sunday at about 11 a.m., regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the supernatural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. so a worldwide team of experts was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 a.m. all the doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books and other holy objects to ward off evil spirits. Just when the clock struck 11, Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday janitor, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so he could use the vacuum cleaner.

Still having a bad day?

The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were being released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later, in full view, a killer whale ate them both.

Still think you are having a bad day?

A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically, almost in a dancing frenzy, with some kind of wire running from his waist toward the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood, breaking his arm in two places. Up to that moment, he had been happily listening to his Walkman.

Are ya OK now? No?

Two animal rights defenders were protesting the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn, Germany. Suddenly, all 2,000 pigs broke loose and escaped through a broken fence, stampeding madly. The two helpless protesters were trampled to death.

What?! Still having a bad day?

Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet did not pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "Return to Sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits. God is good!

There now, feeling better?

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