Committee joins Devils Lake hearings
“We need to have hearings on Devils Lake,” Chairperson Ork Dorken told the 12 electors sitting helter-skelter around the chairperson’s hallow-core table for a special meeting of the Homeland Security Committee in the chilly community hall. “Hearing is now in session,” he declared.
“Why should we have hearings?” demanded Orville Jordan, the depot agent who retired just before the railroad tore up the tracks.”Every federal, state, county, township and city in central North Dakota has been having hearings about this Lake. Everybody is hearing and nobody is doing. It’s a waste of time.”
“This isn’t an ordinary hearing it’s a summit hearing,” Ork clarified. “That’s the highest kind.”
“Senator Conrad is looking for suggestions,” Chief Security Officer Garvey Erfald reported. “So far, the only idea is to run the water down Valley City main street. That isn’t good enough.”
“I agree that we’ve got to do something,” Einar Torvald added. “They say the Lake is getting higher than the countryside. Soon we’ll be part of the Lake bottom ourselves. I’m not building an ark but I have enough lumber for a raft that would hold me and Dog.”
“Give the Legislature the problem they’re good at stashing stuff away,” suggested Holger Danske. “They would put the whole lake in a legacy fund and save it for a less rainy day.”
“We should save that lake water,” argued Little Jimmy. “Fargo is going to need water when the Red River dries up. We need to think of the future.” Being the only person in town under 65, Little Jimmy could say crazy things about the future. He was the only person who had one.
“Sell the Lake to the oil people out there in Stanley cash and carry,” proposed Old Sievert as he shifted his snuff to the left check. “One well needs over a million gallons of water to drill. I’m sure that’s more than the annual rainfall in McKenzie County.”
“They’re hauling water out of Dickinson like crazy,” Einar reported.
“With Buffet owning the railroad, maybe he could come with monster tank cars to haul Devils Lake water to the oil fields and we’d be back in the railroad business again,” Jordan added hopefully. ‘They’re getting $20 a thousand gallons out there.”
“It can’t be done,” barked Old Sievert from his roost in the old stuffed chair in the corner. “Too big a job!”
“That’s what they said when Truman started the airlift to save Berlin,” Holger retorted. “I was there and we did it and I say we could haul Devils Lake west if we put our minds to it.”
“We should send the Lake to the Missouri River,” Einar proposed. “We already have 80 miles of canals built for Garrison Diversion. I know going west is uphill but the Devils Lake soon will be high enough to run uphill.”
“That would be insulting,” Little Jimmy scolded. “Don’t you remember that the Garrison Diversion had two goals – one to grow big crops around McClusky and the other to bring fresh water to Devils Lake? The project took so long the Lake up and got fresh by itself.”
Ork then submitted his master plan. “I say we run a big siphon out of the Lake straight east over to the Red River. That’s downhill all the way so a siphon ought to suck pretty good. Do this and Devils Lake won’t have to fight with Valley City, Lisbon or anybody else down the Sheyenne.”
The electors applauded and cheered, not because they thought it was the best idea, but because they were eager to end the meeting and get back to digging carrots. And that’s exactly what they did.
Omdahl is a UND professor emeritus in political science and a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota.
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