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Created: 5/26/11 (Thu) | Topic: Issues        

Water, water, water

Water, water, water

Just six years ago, Lake Sakakawea was so low, long submerged structures were sticking out of the water and causing problems.

This year, there is so much water, those downstream from the Garrison Dam will see water levels not seen since before the dam was built. Current releases at the dam are at more than 72,200 cubic feet per second and are scheduled to go up to 85,000 cfs on Memorial Day. Reports this morning indicate the Army Corps of Engineers will up the releases to 105,000 cfs on June 9.

Flood stage in Bismarck is 16 ft. Reports this afternoon indicate it is at 15.61 ft. Officials are telling people to prepare for a 100-year flood event. And from what we’ve heard, this could go on for most of the summer, depending on how much rainfall the Missouri basin receives. Of course, four months of flooding is nothing like what has been experienced in the Devils Lake community.

Goveror Jack Dalrymple announced that the state will begin operating the west-end outlet at Devils Lake today, at 150 cfs. The outlet is capable of discharging water at 250 cfs, but will not be increased until the Sheyenne River is capable of transferring additional water downstream.

State officials are moving forward with plans to build a second water outlet at East Devils Lake capable of transferring water at a rate of 350 cfs. The East Devils Lake outlet is part of a larger strategy to alleviate flooding in the Devils Lake Basin and to protect downstream interests.

In addition to building an East Devils Lake outlet, the state is moving forward with plans to build a water control structure at Tolna Coulee. The control structure will not hold back the lake’s natural flow, but only serve to prevent a catastrophic overflow.  The state also plans to expand the lake’s west-end outlet to increase its water discharge capacity from 250 cfs to 350 cfs.

Tomorrow, we will feature NDFB President Eric Aasmundstad’s very personal column regarding the Devils Lake situation.

And, to follow Bismarck flood information, use the hashtag #bisflood on Twitter. Or check out the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bismarck data at



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