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Published August 17, 2011, 03:35 PM

Devils Lake Receives $10.5 Million For Levee

North Dakota's Water Commission agreed Wednesday to pay an additional $10.5 million to build up a levee that protects the city of Devils Lake against the lake's rising waters.

By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press

(AP) — North Dakota's Water Commission agreed Wednesday to pay an additional $10.5 million to build up a levee that protects the city of Devils Lake against the lake's rising waters.

The Army Corps of Engineers is raising the levee to 1,468 feet above sea level. The city is chipping in $2.9 million for the work.

Since the project began almost two years ago, its estimated cost has risen from $113 million to $155 million, Water Commission documents say. Devils Lake city officials have said the city cannot afford to pay a larger sum, and the commission on Wednesday voted to pick up Devils Lake's share of the increased cost.

The state will now pay almost $36 million of the cost of raising the levee, while the federal government will provide about $116 million, according to Water Commission figures.

Since 1992, when increased rain, melting snow and farmland drainage began feeding into the lake, it has risen 32 feet and quadrupled in size, flooding about 140,000 acres. On Wednesday, its level was measured at 1,454.19 feet above sea level.

Todd Sando, the Water Commission's chief engineer, said the higher levee would provide permanent protection for the city of Devils Lake against the rising water.

Should the lake rise higher than 1,458 feet above sea level — or about 4 feet higher than its present level — its excess water will begin flowing naturally into the Sheyenne River. The Sheyenne loops through southeastern North Dakota before it joins the Red River north of Fargo.

The higher levee "will protect Devils Lake from the highest potential level that could ever occur," Sando said. "This will protect the Devils Lake community and some of the outlying areas."

Separately, the commission voted Wednesday to award a $7.9 million contract to install underground piping that will be part of a drainage outlet on Devils Lake's east end.

When the outlet is finished, it will carry water from the lake to the Tolna Coulee, a natural channel that flows into the Sheyenne River.

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