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Devils Lake headed for record

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  • npat1
    With probabilities, you don t say 100 percent, said Mike Lukes, a weather service hydrologist in Grand Forks. But 98, 99 percent, it s going to hit a record
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 26 6:27 PM
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      "With probabilities, you don't say 100 percent," said Mike Lukes, a weather service hydrologist in Grand Forks. "But 98, 99 percent, it's going to hit a record according to the model output."

      In March, the weather service estimated the chance of the lake hitting a record at only 20 percent. Lukes said the new outlook is not due to any unexpected precipitation in the Devils Lake basin but rather the result of changes to evaporation estimates.

      The lake on Wednesday afternoon was at 1,448.87 feet, the weather service said.


      Posted on Wed, Apr. 26, 2006
      http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/14436256.htm

      Devils Lake headed for record
      BLAKE NICHOLSON
      Associated Press
      Apr. 26, 2006
      BISMARCK, N.D. - Devils Lake is almost certain to hit a record high this summer, swallowing another 5,000 acres of land, officials say.

      If that occurs, the lake will be 3 1/2 times the size it was 13 years ago, when the region began experiencing a string of excessively wet years, Ramsey County Commissioner Joe Belford said Wednesday.

      "Every year it just seems to creep up a little higher," he said.

      The latest outlook from the National Weather Service says there is about a 98 percent chance the lake will hit 1,449.35 feet above sea level. The present record level is 1,449.1 feet set in June 2004.

      "With probabilities, you don't say 100 percent," said Mike Lukes, a weather service hydrologist in Grand Forks. "But 98, 99 percent, it's going to hit a record according to the model output."

      In March, the weather service estimated the chance of the lake hitting a record at only 20 percent. Lukes said the new outlook is not due to any unexpected precipitation in the Devils Lake basin but rather the result of changes to evaporation estimates.

      The lake on Wednesday afternoon was at 1,448.87 feet, the weather service said.

      Belford said other than losing more land to the lake, a record high presents little cause for worry. A dike protects the city of Devils Lake to a lake level of 1,454 feet. And "We've spent close to $600 million to date" on infrastructure improvements in the region to handle the rising lake, Belford said.

      Among the projects is a $27 million state-built outlet to drain Devils Lake floodwaters into the Sheyenne River and ultimately the Red River. The 14-mile stretch of pipeline and open ditch began operating last fall and is set to resume pumping on Monday.

      State Water Commission engineers estimate that if the outlet pumps at capacity, it could remove 4 inches to 6 inches of water from the lake each year.

      Pumping was restricted last fall because of high sulfate levels in the Sheyenne River. A state Health Department permit that governs the outlet's operation does not allow downstream water to exceed a certain amount of sulfate, which exists naturally in soil and ground water.

      State Engineer Dale Frink said earlier this month that sulfate levels in the Sheyenne this spring are higher than anticipated. He and other Water Commission officials were out of the office Wednesday afternoon and not available for comment.

      Lukes said the flood outlook, which is for May through September, takes the outlet into account.

      James Connaughton, chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters in Canada that plans are under way to install either an ozone barrier or ultraviolet filtering system for the outlet, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. Connaughton said he hoped to have a recommended option by the end of May.

      Don Canton, a spokesman for Gov. John Hoeven, said Wednesday that he was not aware of any developments in ongoing talks about a new filter. Lance Gaebe, a Hoeven policy adviser, said North Dakota would resume outlet operations on Monday as planned.

      "We have always said ... we have no opposition to an advanced filter, provided North Dakota incurs no cost and it doesn't impede the progress of the outlet," Canton said.

      The outlet began operating last fall under guidelines that say, among other things, that the U.S. and Canadian governments will cooperate in the design and construction of an advanced filter. Canadian officials have continued pushing for it.

      Officials north of the border fear the outlet will introduce unwanted aquatic species into their waters, a fear North Dakota officials say is unfounded.

      "Our studies have shown there's no water quality issue there, and we don't believe we need an advanced filter," Canton said.

      Officials have said that a more advanced filter could cost $18 million or more to build. State officials say the current 18-foot-thick rock filter is adequate.

      "We're not going to delay operation of the outlet," Canton said.

      http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/14436256.htm
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