State to build east-end outlet for Devils LakeThe state of North Dakota will build an east-end outlet from Devils Lake in an effort to move more water from the flooded basin.
By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald
The state of North Dakota will build an east-end outlet from Devils Lake in an effort to move more water from the flooded basin.
The project, which is expected to cost between $62 million and $90 million, calls for building an underground pipeline from East Devils Lake to the downstream side of Tolna Coulee. It will be capable of transferring between 250 cubic feet per of water per second and 350 cfs from Devils Lake to the Sheyenne River.
“Building an east-end outlet is a critical element in our strategy to alleviate flooding in the Devils Lake Basin and to protect downstream communities,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.
The project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2012.
The news was first reported Monday on GrandForksHerald.com. The State Water Commission and the governor’s office released additional details about the plan Tuesday.
From East Devils Lake, the pipeline will run about five miles southeast to Tolna Coulee. The project calls for water to be pumped over a divide, then to flow by gravity through an underground pipeline. The outlet and pipeline design will allow for winter construction.
The East Devils Lake outlet project was developed in collaboration with area stakeholders, including the city of Devils Lake, Ramsey County Commission, the Spirit Lake Nation and Valley City.
“We like the route and we like the timeline,” Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson said. “It appears to be a win-win for our whole region.”
Dalrymple said 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 and is continuing its work to expand the lake’s west-end outlet to increase water discharges from 250 cfs to 350 cfs.
The current west-end outlet will be in operation again this summer.
While the two outlets could move as much as 700 cfs from the lake, engineers estimate it would take a sustained discharge of 1,300 to 1,400 cfs over the course of six months to maintain the lake’s elevation from year to year. The estimate is based on 2009 inflows from the upper basin of about 585,000 acre feet of water and about 100,000 acre-feet of evaporation.
State Engineer Todd Sando said the location of the East Devils Lake outlet was selected after comprehensive evaluation of all options. The east-end outlet plan offers the quickest and most efficient way to move additional water off the lake.
State officials said plans to build an east-end outlet in any other location likely would be delayed by federal regulation, international treaties and litigation.
Devils Lake has risen by almost 30 feet in elevation and quadrupled in size since 1993, reaching a record 1,452.1 feet in June 2010. The National Weather Service forecasts a 50-50 chance the lake will rise to 1,454.8 feet this year.
The lake would flow naturally and uncontrollably out of adjoining Stump Lake to the Tolna Coulee at an elevation of 1,458 feet.
“The project looks very good,” Ramsey County Commissioner Joe Belford said. “It should also be pleasing to downstream communities because the outlet site will move water of the best possible quality.”
Valley City Mayor Robert Werkhoven said he supports the east-end outlet project and its construction schedule because it will help move water off the lake and protect downstream communities from a possible uncontrolled release from Tolna Coulee.
“I’m pleased that the outlet will help protect our people and our land,” said Myra Pearson, chairwoman of the Spirit Lake Nation.