4/28/2010 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

 

For years I said the Devils Lake Outlet was a boondoggle that could not do any good because of water quality and water quality issues. After the state relaxed its water quality standards the 100 cfs outlet began sending more water out of the lake, but it’s still a trickle. Now that the state is increasing the outlet size to 250 cfs, I think it can actually do some good as far as flood control is concerned. But even at 250 cfs it’s still a tiny trickle compared to the amount of water coming into the lake.

So I’ve flip-flopped. When new information becomes available or the situation changes, I’m willing to change my mind. I’m no conservative.

I’m considering flip-flopping again on Devils Lake.

For years I’ve said that the state can’t allow water to be let out of the east end of the lake because the water quality is too poor on the east end. I’m rethinking this position because it isn’t realistic to expect people at the bottom of the Devils Lake Basin to bear the entire burden of excess water. We have to get more water flowing out of the lake.

Even a small outlet on the east end would help. Actually, all we can hope for is a small outlet because the water in West Stump Lake contains probably three times the total dissolved solids that West Bay of Devils Lake does. The water coming out of the state’s outlet at 100 cfs, soon to be 250 cfs, comes from West Bay of Devils Lake.

If a small outlet, say 50 cfs, were constructed on West Stump Lake, it would flow through the Tolna Coulee and then to the Sheyenne River. But it would meet a river already swollen with water from the Devils Lake Outlet. I think it’s unlikely the Sheyenne could handle that extra water or the extra total dissolved solids.

I think the only alternative is to run a 50 to 100 cfs pipeline from Stump Lake to either the Goose River or the Turtle River. Both of those rivers empty into the Red River. After the spring high water on the Red, that 50 to 100 cfs would easily be diluted into the Red River.

Years ago Gordon Berg of Devils Lake, a self-taught expert on water, said a 300 cfs outlet on the east end which would operate 35 to 70 days per year would make Devils Lake a freshwater lake in five to 10 years.

Fargo would really want Devils Lake’s water then.

I doubt that a 300 cfs outlet on the east end would be feasible today, but I think a smaller outlet would certainly make the lake’s water more desirable.

Remember this: the state’s 250 cfs Devils Lake Outlet is going to fill the Sheyenne River to capacity. Putting more water from the east end into the Sheyenne River is probably not feasible because the river can’t handle all the water and it certainly can’t handle more salty water.

As far as flood control is concerned, an east end outlet is not going to help. But it could help as far as water quality is concerned.

There are those who advocate a water treatement plant on the east end of the lake. The estimated cost of the plant a couple years ago was $525 million with an operation and maintenance cost of $27.4 million per year. That’s pretty expensive. But the question is, where would the treated water go? The Sheyenne will already be full from the state’s outlet. Maybe a pipeline to Fargo at many more millions? I think it’s a pipe dream.

But I’ve always been in favor of a small outlet which ultimately empties into the Red River in order to improve the quality of Devils Lake water.

I guess I just kind of talked myself out of flip-flopping on the east end outlet as far as flood control is concerned, because there’s no place to put enough water to give us any relief from flooding.

—000—

People constantly ask me what’s going to happen to Minnewaukan. I guess I’m supposed to know because I live here.

But I don’t.

All I can say is that I think the town can survive to a level of 1454 to 1455. Once the lake hits 1455, it is my opinion that we might as well throw in the towel and ask for a buyout. Another consideration is that flood insurance settlements are whittling down the city’s water and sewer customers. The city has about 175 water and sewer customers. City council member Steven Huffman estimates that when there are fewer than

121 customers, the system will probably no longer be viable.

In the meantime, most residents appear to want to stay where they are.

The city is conducting a survey and when the results are in, I will ask for them to publish.

—000—

A man had just settled into his seat next to the window on the plane when another man sits down in the aisle seat and puts his black Labrador in the middle seat next to the man.

The first man looks very quizzically at the dog and asks why the dog is allowed on the plane.

The second man explains that he is a Drug Enforcement Agency officer and the dog is a ‘sniffer dog.’ "His name is Smithy and he’s the best there is. I’ll show you once we get airborne, when I put him to work."

The plane takes off, and once it has leveled, the agent says: "Watch this." He tells Smithy to "search."

Smithy jumps down, walks along the aisle, and finally sits very purposefully next to a woman for several seconds. Smithy then returns to his seat and puts one paw on the agent’s arm.

The agent says, "Good boy," and he turns to the man and says: "That woman is in possession of marijuana, so I’m making a note of her seat number and the authorities will apprehend her when we land."

"Say, that’s pretty neat," replies the first man.

Once again, the agent sends Smithy to search the aisles. The Lab sniffs about, sits down beside a man for a few seconds, returns to his seat and this time, he places two paws on the agent’s arm.

The agent says, "That man is carrying cocaine, so again, I’m making note of his seat number for the police."

"I like it!" says his seat mate.

The agent then tells Smithy to "search" again. Smithy walks up and down the aisles for a little while, sits down for a moment and then comes racing back to the agent, jumps into the middle seat and proceeds to crap all over the place.

The first man is really amazed by this behavior and can’t figure out how or why a well-trained dog would behave like this, so he asks the agent "What’s going on?"

The agent nervously replies, "He just found a bomb."


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