Todd Sando, Bismarck, column: Water Commission outlines DL outlet plans
By Todd Sando BISMARCK -- Since 1993, Devils Lake has risen nearly 30 feet and expanded from 49,000 acres to 180,000 acres. The State Water Commission fully appreciates the hardships endured by the people of Devils Lake for the past many years. T...
By Todd Sando
BISMARCK -- Since 1993, Devils Lake has risen nearly 30 feet and expanded from 49,000 acres to 180,000 acres.
The State Water Commission fully appreciates the hardships endured by the people of Devils Lake for the past many years. The State Water Commission is committed to moving more water out of Devils Lake, and we have implemented a three-part plan that will address chronic flooding.
In 2010, the state expanded the existing west end outlet from 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 250 cfs. This means 160 million gallons of water can be moved off of Devils Lake every day during the operational season.
Though this is a lot of water, it still is not enough to keep pace with the record inflows that we have experienced in the past several years. To do more, we are designing an expansion to the West End outlet to increase its capacity by another 100 cfs.
In addition, we are designing and will build a second outlet located on Devils Lake's east end. The design flow of the east end outlet is 250 cfs to 350 cfs.
The "Report of the Federal Interagency Devils Lake Working Group," a culmination of input from all the relevant stakeholders, also endorsed the construction of an east Devils Lake outlet.
The west end outlet will continue to move water this spring while we work to expand it by another 100 cfs. In addition, Bartlett and West/AECOM has been selected to engineer the east end outlet, and we plan to begin construction in June or July, 2011.
We anticipate the new east Devils Lake outlet to be operational by the spring of 2012. We cannot and will not wait until Devils Lake reaches 1,458 feet above mean sea level to make these outlets operational.
The location of the east Devils Lake outlet was selected after comprehensive evaluation of all options. East Devils Lake was determined to be the quickest and best way to move additional water off the lake. We believe any other location would be delayed by federal regulation, international treaties and litigation.
In conjunction with the new east Devils Lake outlet, we are designing and will build a control structure located at Tolna Coulee to prevent a catastrophic release of water.
The control structure will be built to mimic natural erosion of the Tolna Coulee. The existing topography will determine the elevation in which the water will start to flow into the Tolna Coulee. We believe this will occur at 1458 feet msl.
The control structure will significantly reduce the risks of large discharges that would be devastating to the Sheyenne River and downstream communities.
The North Dakota State Water Commission will continue working to implement the plan. We understand the hardship and the frustration the people of Devils Lake have endured for the past many years and are committed to moving forward with the most effective measures that can be implemented quickly.
Sando is state engineer for the North Dakota State Water Commission.