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It’s time for Devils Lake to get some help

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

It’s time for Devils Lake to get some serious help.

They have been fighting water for the last 17 years with over $300 million of damage to farmland, infrastructure and homes.

That help just may be coming. The federal task force appointed by President Obama in July to study the problem is expected to release its findings and recommendations next week. The taskforce was charged to find both short term and long term solutions. It will be interesting to see what the meeting of some of the top minds in the country come up with.

Devils Lake has risen 30 feet since 1993. In 2005 a state outlet was created at Peterson Coulee. The problem with that partial solution is that only 100 cubic feet per second(cfs) of water was allowed to be pumped from the outlet because of concerns of sulfates and other bacteria contaminating the water for downstream communities.

A downstream committee has been formed by Joe Belford, chairman and downstream coordinator, Ramsey County Commission, Devils Lake, with mayors of Valley City, Lisbon, Fort Ransom, and others so that downstream communities have input to what could become a big problem for them.

This past June the water release was increased to 250 cfs after the allowable level for sulfates was increased, a process which went through several agencies to get approval. The increase to 250 cfs has been helping and is seen as a positive measure and a step in the right direction for some relief at Devils Lake.

However, it is just a small part of the solution. Experts agree that the wet cycle is likely to continue for a number of years.

Although Rugby is not a downstream community, it is a neighbor of Devils Lake. Watching neighbors suffer great loss for 17 years has got to spark some compassion for the residents of that city.

What can Rugby do? Educate ourselves on the issue and talk to district legislators, and vote when the time comes for what is needed to help our neighbors.

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